A police detective tracks a resourceful serial killer in Perry’s latest nail-biter (Dead Aim, 2002, etc.).
Although she’s lived off wealthy men for a long time, Tanya Starling never killed any of them until doing in Dennis Poole. But she’s embarked on a fearsome learning curve. Fleeing from Portland to San Francisco, she assumes a new identity as Rachel Sturbridge, methodically destroys every trace of Tanya Starling and takes off for Los Angeles when the Bay City gets too hot. As Nancy Mills of LA, she has no scruples about killing a bank manager who knew her as Tanya, or the medical-supplies salesman she picked up for a good time, or the neighbor who recognizes her from a videotape taken outside the salesman’s building. When will her suddenly murderous career end? Det. Sgt. Catherine Hobbes of Portland Homicide succeeds in tracking her down the coast but keeps coming up just inches short. Meantime, Dennis’s cousin Hugo, a crooked businessman who won’t sleep easy until he’s sent a message that nobody messes with his family, has hired raffish Hollywood private eye Joe Pitt to work with Catherine. The two develop a wary mutual respect, but when Catherine sends Joe packing, Hugo raises the stakes by replacing him with Calvin Dunn, an enforcer whose clear brief is to kill Nancy Mills, not turn her over to the police. The entry of this wild card turns a two person cat-and-mouse game into a deadly free-for-all, with Perry in top form as he skillfully prevents readers from seeing around every curve. It’s not until Nancy’s very last disguise, after she’s hidden in the least likely place imaginable, that the tension runs along familiar genre lines.
The hints of romance are less than convincing, but the agonizingly detailed pairing of two determined women, complicated by the intrusion of a freelance killer, is masterful.