ROMEO by Elise Title


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 Former psychotherapist Title debuts with a novel about a serial killer who preys on the most secret fears of successful career women. Dr. Melanie Rosen has christened the killer ``Romeo'' because of his romantic streak: He wines and dines his victims and pushes them to complete sexual surrender before killing them, raping them, and cutting out their hearts (each heart faithfully presented to the next victim on her deathbed). In a series of reports on the TV magazine show Cutting Edge--a forum evidently tailor-made for this maniac--Dr. Rosen has painstakingly built up a portrait of the man who's wormed his way inside the defenses of four self-sufficient women. But her intimate knowledge of Romeo doesn't protect her from becoming his fifth victim, leaving her sister Sarah, a rehab counselor in San Francisco's tough SoMa district, shocked, grieving--and vulnerable, since Melanie's murder has not only released a flood of unholy memories she's kept locked up since childhood, but put her next on Romeo's hit list. You've read this all before, of course; so what's new this time around? The kinky sex, the repressed family trauma, the vignettes from the killer's viewpoint are all boilerplate by now, so the main novelty is the determined variety of candidates for Romeo's mask. Could he be her unbalanced patient Robert Perry? Her former lover Dr. Stanley Feldman? Her ex-husband, fellow psychiatrist Bill Dennison? Sarah's solicitous neighbor, transvestite Vickie Voltaire? Her colleague and best buddy Bernie Grossman (wheelchair-bound, but you never know)? Or Sgt. John Allegro, whose dead wife keeps intruding into his budding romance with Sarah? Suspicion is cast as indiscriminately as stardust, but the suspects themselves are so unmemorable, and the Rosen sisters' susceptibility so pat, that for all its shattering of sexual taboos, the story slots neatly into the Hollywood damsel- in-distress genre from Midnight Lace to Whispers in the Dark. A heavy-breathing debut most likely to arouse readers who don't put their brains in gear.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-553-09710-5
Page count: 488pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1995


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