The self-anointed "Will of the People" is a serial killer with a difference. His targets are all people you might wish were dead yourself, from child rapist-murderer Richie Vollmer to mafioso Patsy Salerno to rabid anti-abortion activist Roswell Berry to anti-Semitic black professor Julian Rashid--who wasn't even killed by the person writing gravely threatening letters to Marty McGraw of the Daily News, but by a member of Rashid's own inner circle. Does that prove that Will is a hoax? Not at all, claims Will in his next letter; it just shows that the will of the people expresses itself through many agents. So how can Will's latest target, all-too-successful criminal defender Adrian Whitfield, protect himself?. By hiring legendary Matthew Scudder (A Long Line of Dead Men, 1994, etc.) to take Will on. Though he's ready to pass along some tips about personal security to Whitfield, Scudder doesn't see what he can dig up about Will's identity that an army of cops have missed--and besides, he's already been teased into looking into the unheralded and apparently unrelated shooting of AIDS-stricken Byron Leopold in a public park. But Scudder's underestimating himself. By the time he finally closes his most satisfying case in years, he'll have identified Will and run down a hideously clever murder plot based on "viatical transactions." An ingenious whodunit that's also, in Block's recent manner, a provoking meditation on mortality--with a particularly strong supporting role for the City of New York, which turns in its finest performance since Ellery Queen's Cat of Many Tails.