A brilliant young forensic psychiatrist tries to outwit a serial killer.
The authors are qualified to write thrillers, but this milquetoast “homage” to Silence of the Lambs and other more venerable entertainments doesn’t even hold up as an airplane book. Baer and Greene’s careers as former producers of series like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and A Gifted Man should give readers a sense of what they’re getting into. After a very slight prologue in which a girl is abducted in 1989, the novel opens on forensic psychiatrist Claire Waters’ first day working among the inmates of Riker’s Island. She’s been invited into this rare research fellowship by Dr. Paul Curtin, a severe taskmaster with his own agenda. “I want to fix them, or at least understand them,” Claire philosophizes about her chosen path. In the most simplistic psycho-speak, Claire believes that childhood is the key to understanding all deviants, not least her first patient Todd Quimby, due for parole soon. Quimby is a hard case with a history of drug and sexual abuse hurtling toward even worse crimes who fixates on his new doctor. Meanwhile, a Manhattan homicide detective named Nick Lawler is recovering from the death of his wife, looking after two young children, and is suddenly called back to homicide after a long exile in a dead-end assignment. Lawler runs across Claire while investigating the murders of young blonde women, with all evidence pointing towards Quimby. Claire is even more horrified when the next victim has been altered to look more like her. The investigative narrative is workmanlike but tolerable, much like the rerun of a TV serial. It’s toward the end, as Claire confronts the killer who abducted her childhood friend and the primary plot becomes a Fugitive-style medical mystery, that this novel starts to lose its edge.
Another police procedural about the criminal mind with lackluster characters and a predictable plot.