Now that she’s saved New York from bubonic plague (Ashes, Ashes, 2008), Dr. Barrett Conyors is ready for another challenge that’s modest only by her outsized standards.
You’d think the daily pressure on the Director of the Forensic Evaluation Center would be intense enough, especially for a single mother raising an infant fathered by the rapist who killed her husband. As the curtain rises, however, Barrett and a shocked social worker are standing over the corpses of two teenagers who overdosed on heroin in a squalid Alphabet City apartment. “It stinks like homicide,” concludes Detective Ed Hobbs, the New York cop who loves Barrett, and the evidence points to the victims’ friend Jerod Blank. But Barrett knows that beneath it all the homeless schizophrenic addict is basically a good guy—which separates him from Dr. Hugh Osborn, the subordinate who’s grieving Barrett’s candid evaluation of his performance; her manipulative boss Janice Fleet, Commissioner of Mental Health; and Adonis-like social worker Chase Strand, who dreams of becoming a plastic surgeon and doesn’t plan to let anything stand in his way. As usual, Atkins makes so palpable the evil of his villains, plausible sociopaths whose activities range from drug pushing to white slavery, that it’s hard to imagine they could ever be defeated—certainly not by the rickety plot he’s contrived for Barrett and Ed.
If your idea of a good time is to watch practiced hands put the heroine’s head in a vise and squeeze, you’ve come to the right place.