Since she doubles as pediatrician and coroner for Georgia’s Grant County, Dr. Sara Linton is used to trauma. But she doesn’t expect it to follow her when she goes to lunch with her plumber sister Tessa and finds Prof. Sibyl Adams, a blind chemist at the Grant Institute of Technology, dying on a toilet seat in the ladies’ room from a frightful series of wounds. Once Sara gets Sibyl Adams on the postmortem table, the ghoulish revelations just keep on coming. And her death is only the beginning. Julia Matthews, a coed who’s disappeared from her Grant dorm, rapidly turns into another casualty of the same monstrous assailant, a man whose outrages are clearly escalating. Though they don’t see eye to eye on very much at all, Sara and her ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, both agree with Sibyl’s twin sister Lena Adams, a hotheaded police detective who keeps throwing herself into the case, that the perp isn’t Will Harris, the black diner help the town seems to have picked out for the job. But is it really Julia’s repellant boyfriend Ryan Gordon, or Jack Allen Wright, the man who raped Sara 12 years ago—a secret she never shared with the man who married her—or some friend or neighbor too close to think of as a suspect at all?
Slaughter’s first novel copies Patricia Cornwell’s bestselling formula right down to the flaws: gruesome forensics, inventive plotting, strong/imperiled heroine who has problems with down-home male authority, a Perils of Pauline climax. Perfect escapist fare for readers well supplied with Maalox.