Miami-Dade Detective Sam Becket—or, more accurately, members of his family—tackle the case of the killer whose victims are found dead on local beaches.
Rudolph F. Muller was apparently beaten with a baseball bat before his throat was cut in North Shore Open Space Park. The Miami-Dade cops are concerned because the case reminds them of the death of Carmelita Sanchez, whose lips were excised after she was clubbed to death with a similar weapon on Pompano Beach two years ago. But Sam is more worried that there might be some connection, however slight, between Muller, a custodian at Trent University, and Sam’s adoptive daughter Cathy Robbins, a Trent undergraduate. Sam’s pregnant wife, child psychologist Grace Lucca, is so focused on bringing her child to term and by the confidentiality that binds her professional behavior that she doesn’t share the warning signs given off by her patient, rehabbed drug addict Gregory Hoffman, until he’s dead of an overdose. In fact, the most conscientious detective on the case is Teresa Suarez, the girlfriend of Sam’s kid brother Saul. And since Teresa’s a rookie in Property Crimes, not Homicide, her interference earns her nothing but suspicion and accusations of meddling. The case would be hopeless if it weren’t capped by not one but two hyper-extended confessions.
Norman (The Pact, 1997, etc.) shows a stronger instinct for killers than sleuths. Her main interest, however, continues to be in the fortunes of her hero’s domestic circle.