Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Greg Iles

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 2005
ISBN: 0-7432-3470-7
Publisher: Scribner

A serial killer who puts the bite on victims is the villainous center of a long, long psychothriller, as southern Gothic as it gets.

Dr. Catherine (Cat) Ferry is a forensic odontologist, which is to say “an expert on human teeth and the damage they can do.” In four cases enlivening the New Orleans crime scene, however, the damage done is mostly posthumous, the victims having been snuffed first, gnawed on afterward. Cat loves being called in to help NOPD investigations. She also loves a hunky homicide detective named Sean Regan. At some point, Sean says, he will leave his wife and kids for her, but it’s a point of diminishing probability. Hard to really blame Sean, feckless as he is, since Cat’s not only bipolar, alcoholic and promiscuous but also apparently content to remain that way. And then, leaning over the chewed-upon corpse of Arthur LeGendre, she has a panic attack that amounts to an epiphany. Something’s wrong, she intuits, and makes a beeline for home in Natchez, Miss. Somehow, she has sensed a connection between the New Orleans murders and dark doings in her own past. Twenty years ago, when Cat was eight, her daddy was shot to death. A mysterious assailant, grandpapa Kirkland has insisted through the years, but Cat has always found that difficult to accept. Now, in her old bedroom in the family manse, she unexpectedly discovers forensic evidence that supports her skepticism—and discovers as well gleanings of a terrible secret. In the meantime, back in New Orleans, the investigation has heated up, and here too it seems Cat had it right. Murder in New Orleans and murder in Natchez are connected by the same kind of terrible secret.

It's clearly Cat’s meow, and if you respond positively to her tempestuous carryings-on, then you'll probably forgive Iles (The Footprints of God, 2003, etc.) his unabashed quest for bestsellerdom.