BURNOUT by Jeannine Kadow


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Knockout melodrama whose first half will probably carry it to big sales, by former TV reporter Kadow (the paperback Blue Justice). Washington, D.C., television reporter Lacie Wagner is the Capital’s local star anchor, partly because she has a tragic history. When she was a child, she was in a car fire with her father and burned her hands to the bone trying to save him. Dozens of restorative operations have failed to improve her hands greatly and she keeps them covered with gloves and never shows even the gloves to the camera. Her body as well has several large patches where skin was removed for grafts for her hands. Having worked her way through four lesser stations before hitting a big story that landed her her present desk, Lucie now gets another scoop: a female lieutenant-commander on a carrier in the Great Bering Sea has sabotaged a fighter plane and leaped to her death in the frigid sea. Some words the officer said before jumping ring home with Lacie, whose nightmares are utterly identical to the dead woman’s as reported by the officer’s husband. Worse, someone kidnaps Lacie’s teenaged daughter Skyla while the girl’s visiting her divorced dad in Manhattan. Phone calls arrive from the abductor, who raves endlessly about fire, and then Skyla’s headless body, or its ashes, are left for the police to find. Three weeks of NYPD investigation lead nowhere, and Lacie’s friend Max sends rogue FBI agent Jack Stein to take up Lacie’s case. Stein is a genius at deductive logic, and he and Lacie begin following up clues. The killer, meanwhile, can’t stop using an untraceable cell phone to give taunting messages to Lacie, assuring her that he intends to lead her back into fire, A first half that’s staggeringly well done, but excess from there on, with way too many fires and way too many killings. And the climax on a raging mountaintop is just bizarre. Should sell, though. (Book of the Month Club alternate selection)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-525-94464-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1999