HANDYMAN by Jean Heller


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 Hot topic (media personalities) meets formerly hot topic (serial killers) in an attention-keeping tale of a slice-'em-'n'- dice-'em murderer on the loose in Florida: a second novel from the author of 1993's dull thud, Maximum Impact. When a serial killer with a penchant for mutilating his female victims' hearts claims his seventh casualty in a bloodily detailed attack, Detective Ben Britton and his special task force are desperate to find him. The killer's taste has changed from prostitutes to schoolteachers and doctors, from stabbing hearts to cutting them out. As the detectives sift through a scant handful of facts, the thirtysomething perp, Eugene Rickey, is quietly making his living as a journeyman builder and renovator. Rickey was raised by his violent, drunk, and promiscuous trailer-home mother, Opal, who, when she stripped young Eugene bare to beat him, would laugh at his penis, asking the boy how, with such a poor endowment, he would ``capture a woman's heart?'' And now Rickey, his mother dead and her prized six-inch knife in his possession, is posthumously showing her how it's done. Afterward, he happily watches his work on the news. Meanwhile, he's also evading the cops less by skill than by pure dumb luck. For Ginsu-special number eight, he chooses TV news anchor Cynthia Diamond, whom he's enjoyed watching report his killings. Detective Britton is Diamond's only ally against unbelievers who, after Cynthia receives violent threats from the killer, claim she's faked them to boost ratings. When the elaborate attack on Cynthia fails, Rickey, in order to appease the demon that drives him, must choose another victim, and fast. Then it's the cops' and victim's turn for dumb luckuntil even the weather is able to lend a hand in the killer's demise. Despite an overreliance on coincidence rather than true twists, a quick and addictive read, its NC-17 content chillingly penned.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-85818-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995