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THE ASSAILANT by James Patrick Hunt

THE ASSAILANT

By James Patrick Hunt

Pub Date: June 9th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-54578-9
Publisher: Minotaur

Lt. George Hastings, St. Louis Homicide, locks horns with a man whose fondness for killing prostitutes extends to women who think they aren’t.

The first victim, Reesa Woods, works as a high-end escort to put herself through college and set a little aside. When she leaves visiting New York banker Geoffrey Harris, she has no idea that he’s her final client. When her strangled corpse turns up on a foul section of the Mississippi bank, Hastings (Goodbye Sister Disco, 2008, etc.) finds no physical evidence, no associates eager to cooperate with his investigation and no sign that the killer has made any mistakes. After Adele Sayers, a second escort, is found strangled outside the city, a joint task force is appointed to coordinate city and county inquiries. Though he’s second in command among the SLPD participants, Hastings gets nothing out of the task force but some serious friction with its head, Chief of Detectives Ronnie Wulf. By rights, the murder of realtor Marla Hilsheimer, clubbed instead of strangled, ought to break the case wide open because it clearly departs from the pattern. But it does no such thing. Neither does the gloating letter the killer sends the St. Louis Herald. Instead, both Hastings and Reesa’s colleague Rita Liu have a series of convenient hunches that pay off.

As usual, Hunt writes a mean sentence and keeps up the pace so smartly that his growing number of fans won’t look too closely at the holes in the detective work or the disappointingly conventional presentation of the assailant.