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BEYOND RECOGNITION by Ridley Pearson

BEYOND RECOGNITION

By Ridley Pearson

Pub Date: Feb. 6th, 1997
ISBN: 0-7868-6240-8
Publisher: Hyperion

 Patricia Cornwell could take lessons from Sgt. Lou Boldt and police psychologist Daphne Matthews (No Witnesses, 1994, etc.) as they go up against a madman arsonist driving down property values in Seattle. The fires are so hot--one of them shoots a pillar of flame two miles into the air--that they destroy all physical evidence at ground zero, including the victims (the first is identified by a single bone). So The Scholar, so dubbed because he sends fire inspector Steven Garman a quotation from Nietzsche or Lao-tzu before carefully setting each fire, isn't leaving any trace- -except one: a series of visits to low-rent psychic Emily Richland to ask whether such-and-such a date is propitious. Emily duly notifies the cops, but, meantime, her unofficial helper, 12- year-old Ben Santori, has already gotten into the act, following her sinister visitor and putting himself squarely in harm's way. At the same time, Boldt and Matthews have managed not only to compile a group portrait of the victims--they're all dark-haired divorcÇes with children between eight and ten who were spared from the fires that claimed their mothers--but to cobble together enough information about the arsonist's modus operandi to give them a prime suspect. Already on the ropes because of his wife Liz's suspicious behavior, Boldt struggles to put together a case, but not in time to save his family from being driven from their home. Now a point for the diabolically clever Scholar, now a point for the painstaking Boldt and Matthews--until they know enough to stake out a decoy in a hundred-page finale that'll give your heart more exercise than a ten-mile run. Pearson's dazzling forensics will hook his usual fans. But it's the richness of incident and the control of pace that'll keep them dangling as he switches gears each time you think the story's got to be winding down in this exhilarating entertainment. (Author tour)