Crider, author of two so-so series (Evil at the Root, Dying Voices, etc.), takes a totally different tack in this gritty story of a serial killer. Nine women, seemingly with nothing in common, have been brutally killed in Houston, leaving the police force and their psychologist, Dan Romain, baffled. A new chief is encouraging Investigator Howland to review the scanty evidence with Romain to try to come up with something--anything. Meanwhile, the reader becomes acquainted with the mad logic of the killer and learns, in graphic and horrifying detail, what made him the lunatic he is. Other chapters introduce newly divorced Casey Buckner, her young daughter, Margaret, and some of their fellow residents at the apartment complex to which Casey has moved from West Texas, with hopes of getting a teaching job. All these elements come together in a tension-packed final confrontation worthy of its chilling preamble. Not for gentle tastes, but a striking addition to the serial- killer subgenre--gory, repugnant, and gripping to its last ugly reverberation.