COOKIE CUTTER by Sterling Anthony


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An unsavory debut thriller about a racist who hates whites and kills blacks. Three good people, prominent citizens all, have been brutally slain: two men, one woman, all black. In each case, the victims were stabbed to death, an Oreo cookie left behind as the killer’s signature. The crimes are full of political ramifications in a tightening mayoral campaign, and Detroit’s police department feels mounting pressure. In the meantime, Lt. Mary Cunningham, who is black, has had no problem interpreting the symbolism. “An Oreo,” she tells her boss, “is a black person who sides with whites against other black people.” Chief of Police Upton is white, but he gets the message: “An Uncle Tom,” he says. Now meet Eugene Shaw, the adored son of opposition mayoral candidate Isaac Shaw. Eugene is handsome, charming, talented, and pathological. Eugene, in short, is a serial killer who has decided that racial hatred is the legitimate response of blacks toward whites. It’s a war, in other words, but some black people seem to have forgotten that. Eugene means his murderous cookie-crumbling demonstrations to function as reality checks. Though he sees himself as black, he looks white. Not only is this an ongoing, infuriating problem for him—color-struck Eugene despises his own skin—but it’s a problem for Cunningham, too. Convinced that she’s stalking a black man, she misses early chances to catch Eugene in her net. As serial killers go, however, Eugene is hopelessly second-class, and in the end Cunningham, second-class herself when it comes to sleuthing, gets bailed out accidentally. The challenge here is to find someone to root for, someone who isn’t sullen, self-serving, manipulative, or ruthless. Regardless of skin color, it’s a blackhearted bunch.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-345-42604-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: One World/Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1999