Police chief Jesse Stone (Stranger in Paradise, 2008, etc.) must have put the fear of God into would-be killers in his little town of Paradise. Now he’s reduced to hunting down a Peeping Tom.
Someone calling himself the Night Hawk has graduated from spying on middle-aged brunettes as they disrobe for the night to confronting them in their homes with a gun and ski mask and forcing them to undress for photography sessions. The home invasions are no laughing matter for the terrified victims, of course, but their most notable feature is that the Night Hawk’s helpless obsession with collecting more and more pictures of women he’s never touched reminds Jesse of his own obsession with his ex-wife Jenn, a TV reporter who uses him to provide sex, affection and reassurance when she’s not off in New York sleeping her way up the broadcast ladder. At length Jesse’s 12-member force links the Night Hawk to the Paradise Free Swingers and to Betsy Ingersoll, a junior-high principal who’s been a person of interest ever since she lifted the skirts of the 13-year-olds at a school dance to make sure their underwear was modest. When Betsy, who’s protected by a husband who manages the biggest law firm in Massachusetts, claims she’s been the Night Hawk’s latest victim, Jesse’s eighth and slightest case heats up, though barely to the point of serial felony.
The usual navel-gazing is fleshed out with sage reflections about the psychology of voyeurs, though no mention is made of readers who love the frisson of second-hand crime.