A psychopathic New York mob scion involved with a starry-eyed high-school senior--it spells trouble even before LAPD Sgt. Peter Decker joins the party. Prom night leaves Cheryl Diggs raped and strangled, her date--dead-eyed Chris Whitman--looking guilty as hell, and Chris's true love, Terry McLaughlin, who already knows about Chris's fondness for bondage, scared but certain that Chris couldn't have killed Cheryl. For all Terry's loyalty, Decker piles up an overwhelming case against Chris and reluctantly agrees to Lt. Tug Davidson's insistence that he overlook the nagging clues that implicate an unknown black male--just the kind of angle the LAPD doesn't need. So Chris, who swears he's in love with Terry, confesses to the killing to keep Terry's involvement secret and starts his hitch in the big house. Fade to black--except that Terry still can't believe Chris did it, and Decker can't ignore his own doubts, and a two-year-old case in Wilshire has an eerily similar MO. This time out, Kellerman (Grievous Sin, 1993, etc.) skims over Decker's home life to concentrate on crime and punishment. The result is unrelieved but highly effective melodrama, fleet and heavy-breathing, whose outrageous coincidences and third-quarter longueurs will be redeemed for her fans by three final surprises.