An unhinged pair of serial murderers surface early in Holton's second outing (Presumed Dead, 1994): Chicago's Neil DeWitt and wife Margo, socialite millionaires, who share a well-hidden blood lusthis for nubile young women, hers for black boy children. Sergeant Clarence McKinnis is shot to death by Neil because he interfered with Neil's pursuit of Paige Albritton, an ex-hooker who shared McKinnis's apartment and was soon to marry him. Paige is the prime suspect in the killing, but she's quickly rescued by the intervention of Deputy Chief Larry Cole. He's been alerted to the DeWitts by an indiscreet remark of Margo's, overheard at a fancy reception. There are witnesses who could nail Neil for the murder, but they're disposed of, one by one, even as the toll of dead black children mounts. Neil's attempt at dispatching the last witness ends in his own death, an outcome engineered by Margo, who's getting bored with him. Meanwhile, Deputy Cole forms his own trustworthy team, outside the power plays racking the upper echelons, and, finding parallels in the rising number of homicides to certain works of fictional crime, establishes contact with mystery writers Barbara Zorin and Jamal Garth. In the end, it's their input that saves his own son Butch from a maniacal killer. The author's Superwoman fiend is less than credible, his straight-ahead style unpolished. Still, it's the rare reader who'll put this one down as it hurtlesone chilling event after the nextto its over-the-top finale. Warts and all, a bravura performance.