Daily News reporter Gil Malloy’s third outing pits him against a serial killer who’s also a member of the fairer sex.
Fairer but not gentler. Melissa Ross, the private eye Victoria Issacs hired to check up on her husband, Walter, a prominent corporate attorney, goes the extra mile, taking Walter to bed in the posh Hotel Madison, then stabbing and bashing him to death. She gives ad executive Rick Faris the same treatment in his Yorkville apartment, then moves on to Tim Hammacher, the top aide to crime-fighting deputy mayor Bob Wylie. Gil can’t help taking these developments personally because he’d catapulted to fame, then slid to disgrace, over a story he filed about Victoria Issacs when she was a high-class call girl who called herself Houston and because Wylie had approached him to join Hammacher on a team that seemed headed for a mayoral bid. And soon enough, Melissa, whom the News has dubbed Blonde Ice, is indicating that it’s just as personal for her by phoning him to taunt him, feed him clues, and revel in her superior brainpower. All this seems obvious, right down to Gil’s jokes, and Belsky does seem to have a perverse attraction to all the lines more oblique writers make a point of leaving out. But the case takes a welcome new turn when Melissa turns up in Ohio under circumstances that broadly hint that she may not be the killer after all, and Gil goes back to the drawing board, eventually joining forces with NYPD rookie Vincent D’Nolfo, former bodyguard to the slain Abbie Kincaid (Shooting for the Stars, 2015, etc.), to catch Blonde Ice in the middle of her latest media event.
If you can overlook the comic-strip prose and by-the-numbers plotting, the hero is appealingly fallible—he’s still carrying a torch for his ex, and he spends a fair amount of time temporizing and procrastinating—and there are some effective twists toward the end.