Someone is killing the Catholic schoolgirls of Philly.
Detective Jessica Balzano, the newest Gold Badge in the Philadelphia Homicide Unit, has caught the high-profile case of five girls slain in a single week. There’s no telling why, no sign of an end to the brutal pattern. Each victim has rosary beads clutched in her hand, each has been mutilated in a grisly way. Jessica, a decorated police officer’s daughter, is bright, resourceful, eager to succeed and as nervous as a kitten on her first day. Fortunately, she draws as her partner Kevin Byrne, a man whose 20 years on the force has given him a special insight into the pathology of serial killers and a special hatred of them derived from his conviction that mindless cruelty is an inextricable part of a serial killer’s m.o. Byrne likes Jessica. He thinks she’s talented and committed. She respects him enormously. Together, they mount an investigation that soon points in an interesting direction—until its subject is transformed from possible mastermind to brutalized victim, leaving Jessica and Byrne suddenly clueless. Frustrated, though not discouraged, they return to the grunt work. It bears fruit, and this time Jessica feels absolutely certain it’s the right direction—something that scares the daylights out of her.
A long but lively police procedural told with Montanari’s (The Violet Hour, 1998, etc.) signature brand of inelegant brio.