When a couple of brutally murdered women turn up in East St. Louis, Mayor Will Emery decides his southern Illinois town has a serial killer on its hands and that specialized help is needed. Enter Detective Joe Keough (Blood on the Arch, 2000, etc.), posted on the other side of the Mississippi, in St. Louis, Missouri. Though Keough is his mayor’s “top cop,” he’s currently bored silly, and his Holmesian soul yearns for “real detective work.” And since the mayor seems pretty bored with Keough—who does not suffer under-utilization gladly or in silence—he promptly ships him on loan across troubled waters. Though his colleagues on the other side of the bridge offer no fervent welcome, Keough is used to putting noses out of joint. Moreover, in compensation, there’s a Watson wannabe, young Detective Marc Jeter, going bug-eyed at each pearl of sleuthing wisdom that drops from Keough’s lips. Together, the two begin to track a misogynistic killer who’s cast a truly eclectic hate-net, wide enough for the incongruous inclusion of “selfish, evil” Lucy Ricardo. At first, clues are frustratingly few. Wearily, Jeter wonders whether it’s really possible to identify a pattern from only two cases—to which Keough’s measured response is that “it’s easier when there are three or four.” Impressed as always by the top cop’s mastery, young Jeter takes heart, and at length justice is served, though without much in the way of ratiocination.
Drab characters, limp prose, anorexic plot.