Will the execution-style murder of a suspected rapist heal the wounds in a California town or tear them open even further?
Santa Rita Police Chief Griffin Kells has never had enough evidence to arrest Martin Torrey, a registered sex offender for peeping and masturbating back in Ohio, for a series of four assaults. Despite constant pressure from Mayor Hugh Delahunt, who didn't want Kells as chief in the first place, he hasn’t been able to make a case against Torrey. Now he doesn’t have to, because someone’s shot his leading suspect three times, two of them in unmentionable places, in Echo Park. It would be nice to report that the killing brings closure to the rape victims—fitness instructor Sherry Wilder, housewife Ione Spivey, spinster schoolteacher Eileen Jordan, brew-pub waitress Courtney Reeves—or the men who variously support them. It would also be a lie, since the women remain just as traumatized as ever (one of them will end up committing suicide), and after a break of only a few days, there’s still another rape. This fifth attack, however, provides crucial evidence that eventually breaks the case wide open. The series of brief first-person accounts used to report the progress of the case and its many resonances throughout Santa Rita is the most impressive feature here, giving a truly prismatic view of many conflicts that have divided the troubled community; the pedestrian solution to the mystery is the weakest.
Prozini’s stand-alones are frequently less formulaic and more sensitive than his trademark Nameless Detective franchise (Zigzag, 2016, etc.). This one doesn’t scale the heights of his finest work, but fans won’t feel let down either.