CLEAN CUT by Theresa Monsour


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Derivative debut thriller about a plastic surgeon with a hair fetish, by a longtime St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter.

Handsome is as handsome does, and “gorgeous” Dr. A. Romann Michaels does baaad. He’s one sick dude, probably because he had one sick mommy, who tried unsuccessfully to take him to bed hours before she killed herself. He was in junior high then, and ever since he’s had difficulty refraining from homicide where women are concerned. Well, not just any woman: there has to be hair, beautiful hair, like mommy’s, which he cuts off post-mortem, carefully washes, dries, bags, then adds to his stash in a Victorian hatbox reserved just for that purpose. When he slaughters an unfortunate prostitute named Finch, though, he comes to the attention of Sergeant Paris Murphy of the St. Paul (Minnesota) PD. Murphy—tough, smart, gorgeous in her own right, with a “small waist and narrow hips but larger than average breasts”—is precisely Michaels’s cup of tea: “Her hair hung like a velvet curtain around her swanlike neck.” So you know that it’s going to get personal between them. Early on, Murphy, famous for her intuition, convinces herself that Michaels is the sadistic perp who did Finch in. Making the case, however, is another matter, particularly since the wayward doctor is not only highly respected professionally but tightly connected politically. No other recourse, Murphy decides—as many of crime fiction’s female cops have done before her—but to turn herself into bait. That is, use her velvet curtain to trigger his lurking savagery. It works, of course, and though chilled by those “heartless, soulless orbs,” Murphy (symbolically at least) scalps her man.

Not much polish, and the feisty heroine isn’t much more than an amalgam of genre divas, but the vigorous narrative drive does offer hope for Monsour’s next.

Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 2003
ISBN: 0-399-14968-6
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2003