A brood of serial killers makes a family business out of stalking reporter Irene Kelly.
A perennial star with the Las Piernas (California) News Express, Irene Kelly now finds herself facing eclipse, the trouble coming from two directions. First, the embattled News Express, long engaged in a bitter war of attrition, the same one being waged by newspapers nationwide, puts out a final edition, converting Irene and her colleagues into unhappy members of the nonworking press. A tough deal for someone like Irene who loves her job so much that the loss of it is in a sense a small death. But death by metaphor is only that, after all, while real death—that which has been promised her by notorious serial killer Nick Parrish—is an over-and-done-with proposition, the stuff of obits and requiems. Irene has a history with Parrish, the kind that doesn’t bear thinking about, except that she does think about it, recalling a robotic monster who kills as if assembled for no other purpose. Her experience with Parrish has been hands-on: his hands on her throat, resulting in trauma she relives in shivery nightmares whenever things go bump in the night. She’d been lucky to wriggle free of him, an escape so narrow she can’t quite believe in its permanence. Yes, she knows that Parrish, his body wracked by serious injuries to head and spine, is locked away behind prison bars presumably forever—a life sentence, no possibility of parole—but still she worries. The worry will intensify exponentially when she learns about those three chips off the old block.
Even Burke, accomplished thrillermeister that she is (The Messenger, 2008, etc.), can’t get blood from a stone, or wring a nuance from your basic, warmed-over serial killer, a prototype well past its sell date. Her next will be better.