They’re serial killers, sadistic and repellent. Well, he is; she’s more your standard cross-me-and-I’ll-snuff-you type. Presenting Dr. Lawrence and Gayle (think Messalina) Stryker, honorees at the Tucson “Man and Woman of the Year” banquet when we first meet them. Attractive, philanthropic pillars of the community, for over a quarter-century they’ve been decorating a secret room in the Stryker manse with teenage girls hustled over from Mexico to satisfy the Krafft-Ebing tastes of the dissembling doctor. He performs; she enjoys. Across town, retired sheriff Brandon Walker, making his third appearance, is bored beyond measure. His wife Diana keeps writing those Pulitzer Prize–winning books, leaving him to contemplate his navel. Then suddenly he’s contacted by the Last Chance, a volunteer organization dedicated to solving cold cases. Three decades ago, a young Hispanic female was murdered, mutilated, and stuffed piecemeal into a Coleman Cooler. Is Brandon interested? Does a drowning man crave a lifeline? A coincidence here, a lucky break there—easy on the ratiocination—and soon enough Brandon discovers what Dr. and Mrs. Monster have been up to. Then he almost wishes he hadn’t.
Despite the grisly patina, this is a neat fit for the Jance formula (Partner in Crime, 2002, etc.), her signature blend of mystery-lite and soap-opera heavy.