Another confrontation between a demented sex killer and a cop whose problems look awfully similar--but this time the sexual hang-ups actually illuminate the characters as well as drive the plot. Sergeant Detective Simon Brith, of the Wichita police department, is looking for a man with a razor who's killed two attractive blondes and then carefully applied lipstick to their open throats. In no time at all, he and his partner Dan Cox narrow their field to a downtown strip they stake out, but without laying a hand on the culprit--an improbably beautiful welfare-shelter inmate known only as Brother Lowdown--although they incorrectly suspect him of dealing drugs and his roommate Leon of being the killer. Simon, himself the embittered victim of a homicidally abusive mother, doesn't appreciate the irony of the fact that Brother Lowdown is attacking women he confuses with the mother he killed at age six. When Simon finds himself nominated to play the part of token escort to cosmetics heiress Terra Dunlevy--a shotgun-toting misogynist whose treacherous aunt is grooming her for an interview in Time--he gradually learns that she too was the victim of a childhood trauma (a remote mother who sent her to a French boarding school where she was blackmailed and gang-raped) that explains her loathing of men and cosmetics and her fondness for animals. But he doesn't realize how her past makes her Brother Lowdown's ordained final victim. Though motives fit together more tightly than events--it takes forever for either Brother Lowdown or Simon to make his move--this is a probing debut from an author to watch.