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A lawyer investigates the suspicious death of a client while the cop he loves doggedly pursues a serial killer in this second installment of a series. 

Alex Carreras rebuilds his embattled life—he was falsely accused of murder and in the process of vindicating his innocence nearly died. Now he’s back to work as an attorney and he lands a case: His old grade-school friend Morton “Mort” Stafford Allen IV is accused of attempting to kill his own mother, Dede. Dede is a “fabulously wealthy widow,” but also profoundly frustrated by Mort’s irresponsible “playboy behavior,” and apparently intends to will her considerable fortune to three of her staff members who double as confidantes. But soon after Alex agrees to help him, Mort turns up dead, a demise that seems suspicious though quickly ruled a suicide. Alex discovers that Mort had fathered a child—a young girl named Abby—who now potentially stands to inherit Dede’s fortune, a claim that puts her life in grave danger. Meanwhile, Alex reunites with Murray Schmitz, the beautiful detective who helped him clear his name and whose life he once saved. O’Keefe (The Gator Hunter, 2018, etc.) is at her best chronicling the romantic electricity between Alex and Murray, a connection that while powerful struggles to move past its initial spark. And Murray has her own professional preoccupations: She’s tasked with tracking down a serial killer who targets unsuspecting young women. The author picks up right where the novel’s predecessor left off, but it can’t be fully enjoyed as a standalone work—the ligatures that tie the two are just too strong. The plot never drags for even a moment—O’Keefe maintains a blistering pace punctuated with generous servings of action. But the story as a whole feels melodramatically contrived and formulaic and, as a result, quickly becomes tedious. In addition, the author’s writing ranges from overwrought to bewildering. Consider this excerpt from a rambling account by someone who knows the serial killer and hopes to reform him: “I guess I been watching too much Bewitched movies or something, you know what I’m saying? Where the prince dude gets turned into a frog or something?”

A fast-paced but familiar pair of murder mysteries.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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