Rusch’s latest serial killer has a yen for couples on the skids.
A phone call takes Special Agent Elizabeth Hewitt of the Illinois State Police away from the side of her brand-new fiancé, Det. Brady Richter, and to a grisly crime scene where Rita Vandermause has been decapitated with a samurai sword by a killer who has made off with her head. And that’s only the beginning of this latest round of horrors, as Hewitt learns when she calls on Joe, Rita’s estranged husband. Jen Spangler, the daughter of Hewitt’s boss, who’s filling the time between terms studying criminal justice to shadow Hewitt on the job, discovers Joe’s equally headless corpse in his garden. Who might have had an interest in preventing the couple, and other couples to come, from separating, even if it meant enforcing a separation of a more radical kind? The suspects include parish priest Brian Wilson; Dr. Gerry Boccachio, a psychiatrist with a special interest in couples at risk; and the staff of Big Shoulders Marriage and Family Therapies, who seem to share an unholy interest in creative approaches to marriage (one of them has authored Learning to Love Your Inner Slut). The case hinges on the murder of a young woman who was never married, let alone separated.
The elliptical investigation is nothing special, but Rusch (The Boy with Perfect Hands, 2006, etc.) certainly takes a distinctive delectation in the mechanics of serial homicide.