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Grim but absorbing thriller, in which a family torn apart by a brutal murder endures a replay 20 years later. Before the murder derailed them, two of the three Moran brothers were doing all right. Terry was a rising young cop, Tom a well-regarded young medical student. As for Frank, the oldest, his dance toward alcoholic oblivion was still no more than a minuet. But then somebody kills Nancy, Tom’s wife, in an act of singular violence. In the aftermath of this horror, both Terry and Tom find themselves suspects. Since the evidence is flimsy, the two are cleared soon enough, but suspicion lingers, blighting their lives and crippling their ambitions. Still, they are managing to some degree when, on the 20th anniversary of Nancy’s death, a young woman is killed and mutilated in ways that can’t help but recall the earlier crime. Has Nancy’s killer suddenly surfaced, or do the police have a copycat on their hands? Homicide Detective Dom DiGrazio (the criminalist of the title) thinks it’s the latter. Some of his superiors want him to be wrong, though, and at this point departmental in-fighting takes center stage as career-minded cops battle for the tactical edge that translates into promotion. DiGrazio is a savvy politician’sneaky, fast, unashamedly opportunistic—and Izzi (Tribal Secrets, 1992, etc.) clearly relishes his triumphs over the fat cats in blue. At length we get back to the killer, who finally makes a fatal mistake. It leads to a climactic struggle, set fittingly in an insane asylum, at the end of which the forces of good are bloody but unbowed. Though a bit repetitious at times and occasionally clumsy, the energy is unflagging. Izzi, who died in 1996, never qualified as an elegant writer. But over the course of a dozen or so novels, he was a storytelling machine.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-380-97540-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1998


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