TV writer/producer Kay’s debut mystery (Sink and Destroy, 2014, etc.) lures a forensic psychologist out of his University of Washington classroom to help a Seattle cop track the killer of two known victims and perhaps many more.
Ever since a local cop tackled and cuffed him during a peaceful demonstration, Dr. James Verraday, who’d already seen his mother killed and his sister crippled by a police car that ran a red light and slammed into their car when he was still a child, has been perfectly comfortable with this new relationship with the Seattle Police Department: suing it for damages. While his lawsuit is still pending, he’s surprised, and not in a good way, to meet Detective Constance Maclean, who begs his help in identifying the man who beat and strangled Rachel Friesen, who moonlighted as a fetish model for the Assassin Girls website. Even though Detective Bob Fowler, the lead investigator in the murder of high-end escort Alana Carmichael six months ago, has focused on Peter Cray, a man with a long rap sheet whose DNA was recovered from Alana’s clothing, as his leading suspect, Maclean sees so many similarities between the two cases that she’s convinced the two murders are the work of a single man, and she wants Verraday to use his profiling skills to identify that man. Verraday refuses indignantly but, changing his mind after a vivid nightmare, agrees to lend his uniquely categorical judgment to Maclean. “Peter Cray didn’t murder Alana Carmichael,” he assures Maclean, and briskly dismisses fetish shop owner Aldous Whitney as a suspect even before he meets him: “Whitney’s not the killer.” But who is?
Detection-cum-romance enlivened by the profiler’s own moderate but heartfelt interest in sadomasochistic erotica, which produces an ending as twisted as it is gratuitous.