Tim Farrington, chronicler of San Francisco’s New Agers (The Monk Downstairs, 2002, etc.) reinvents himself under a pseudonym to tell the story of a female cop hunting a female serial killer.
Helen Rainey has always had a way with men. Kissing her oblivious live-in boyfriend goodbye every morning, she ventures out into the streets of San Francisco armed with a knowledge of makeup, fashion, and male fantasies that allows her to take her pick from among the singles trolling any bar by night or any supermarket by day and get her catches to do whatever she wants. And what she’s wanted them to do for some time now is die. Her nemesis, Homicide Inspector Rose Burke, is also something of her twin. Haunted by violence (the death of her former partner in a shootout) and unhappy at home (her computer-geek husband Seamus can’t even spare the time from work to hear that she’s pregnant), she’s hard-pressed to juggle her man, her job, and her uncomfortable resemblance to her cold-blooded quarry. Devlin writes a mean sentence and has the sensitivity to make you care about even his most unlovable characters, but the serial-killer frame cramps his style instead of liberating him to explore its contradictions; none of the surprises he springs toward the end take it beyond the comfortable confines of its genre.
A beautifully presented example of a familiar type.