SUNFLOWER by Martha Powers


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For two years the Wisconsin town of River Oaks has been terrorized by somebody the press is dying to call the Goldilocks Killer because he preys on fair-haired young girls. Now that his fourth victim, Lindy Pottinger, has been discovered, the horror breaks out anew, especially for Lt. Sheila Brady, newly arrived from Milwaukee, who realizes that the intervals between the killings are getting shorter and shorter, and that Sheila’s own 11-year-old daughter Meg would be a logical target for the next outrage. What she doesn’t know is that the River Oaks Killer, suffering from a standard-issue delusion about Donna, the first girl he molested way back when, is as interested in girlish Sheila as he is in her daughter. The leading clues are the sunflowers that link all the deaths so far and point to the town’s annual Sunflower Festival as the next date for death; the suspect list seems to include half the men in River Oaks—philandering mayor Dick Perkins, bookstore owner Herb Reisler, druggie/thief Vincent Calero, sunflower grower Dominic Ferraro, accountant Elliot Jenkins—and a blast from Sheila’s past, Sgt. Doug Maloney, the Milwaukee cop who claims that her freezing at a crucial moment in a drug bust had fatal results. Serves you right if you think the killer is any of these guys. A hardcover debut that puts a harder edge on Mary Higgins Clark’s early thrillers (Sheila has an active sex life, and so, regrettably, does the killer) but can’t compete with the original’s narrative drive.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-83767-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1998