To an even greater extent than other, recent, mystery-poor outings for Spenser, this new episode is more melodrama than detection: Boston's new serial psycho-killer just happens to be a patient of psychologist Susan Silverman (Spenser's beloved)--so the shamus teams up with the cops to identify and nab the psycho. . .without compromising Susan's professional ethics. Why does the "Red Rose" maniac commit vile gun/rape/masturbation murders, wth black women as his victims? No one has any idea; the investigation gets temporarily sidetracked by a copycat killing-and-confession. But then the psycho leaves one of his trademark red roses at Susan Silverman's home/office, and Spenser begins to suspect that the killer is being treated by Susan. Will she discuss her patients with our hero or the cops? Of course not. So Spenser, sidekick Hawk, and the police start trailing all of Susan's white, male patients; they soon determine which one is "Red Rose." And the final chapters offer a series of showdowns and chases, with Susan now ready to help trap her patient. Parker's appropriation of the stale cops-vs.-psycho scenario here is wall-to-wall clichÃ‰--complete with the maniac's italicized thoughts and a lame pseudo-psychoanalytic explanation (featuring monster-Mom) for his lunacy. So, though quickly readable and certain to reach a wide audience, this is primarily for those keyed into the Spenser/Susan relationship ("the connection between us was shimmering and palpable and more changeless than the universe"); otherwise--yet another disappointment for fans of early, high-quality Spenser.