A reporter discovers that the criminals covered in his articles are the targets of a serial killer.
After three installments in his Max Freeman private-eye series, King (Shadow Men, 2004, etc.) here turns out a standalone that may not stand alone for long. Protagonist Nick Mullins, crime reporter for the South Florida Daily News, snaps to attention when someone shoots and kills a brutal child murderer. Mullins, painfully sensitive after losing his wife and daughter in a car accident, had written a series about the killer. Trying to identify the crack sniper who killed the molester, Mullins draws out poker-faced police investigators; picks the brain of a medical examiner who listens to Cannonball Adderley while performing an autopsy on the victim; and butts heads with his city editor (a former reporter, King shows how new media technologies help reporters get stories, solve criminal cases and go for their editors’ throats). A shift to the point of view of the killer, Michael Redman, reveals he’s an Iraq war vet, who feels an alliance with Mullins. Mullins and the police, meanwhile, discover a pattern in several recent murders that the reporter also happened to cover. It appears Redman is a serial killer, apparently ticking off the murderers Mullins wrote about in his stories. Canny Mullins soon zeroes in on Redman, confronting him directly at one point. But the reporter can’t sway Redman from his course, which heads to the assassination of one Robert Walker, the man who killed Mullins’s wife and daughter. In his darker moments, the haunted Mullins has parked outside Walker’s home to watch him. Whose is the eye of vengeance?
Strong characters, complex tensions and fascinating details about crime-reporting should have readers lining up.