Second-novelist Santlofer (The Death Artist, 2002) unleashes another fictional serial killer on his colleagues in the Manhattan art world.
On page one, we meet our killer, a frustrated colorblind artist who hums ’80s tunes as he stalks and then eviscerates a sweet blond prostitute in a swirl of pornographic color lust, describing her organs as “Orchid! Eggplant! Cerise! Magenta!” Equally purple is the next scene, as Katherine McKinnon Rothstein—the Astoria beat cop turned art historian heroine of Santlofer’s first outing—makes love to Richard Rothstein, her beautiful, richer-than-God criminal attorney husband of ten years. (Note to authors: Shellfish metaphors in sex scenes need to go.) Poor Kate. Previously, Santlofer also killed off her adopted daughter Elena. Now, her buddies in the NYPD get her to take one day out of her comfortable uptown life—lunching, producing her PBS television series, volunteering for a foundation for underprivileged youth—to lend her artistic expertise to the case, just in time for her to discover the next victim: Richard himself, gutted in a back alleyway. Some women might take to bed in grief, but Kate straps on her Glock and picks up a gay cop sidekick, and we’re off! Our killer, like Son of Sam, is goaded on by imaginary voices—Tony the Tiger and the cast of 90210—and happily paints Crayola-colored canvases in his victim’s blood (“Maroon! Mulberry! Wild Strawberry!”), while Kate herself, Jodie Foster–like, becomes the focus of his obsession. We get an inscrutable subplot involving the mob, Richard’s cokehead former underling, and a pimp. Kate commits a justifiable homicide, then gives a tutorial in art world clothing chic to the NYPD (“the operative word is black”) for an ill-fated stake-out at a gallery. Bad-guy corpses pile up—he must be dead. But wait—there’s eighty pages left to go. It’s Friday the Thirteenth!
An exhausting, overstuffed read that still manages to leave key questions unsatisfied.