Two decades after seeing her father kill her mother, a girl incongruously nicknamed Lucky carries a burden that blossoms into multiple murder.
It’s not a great month for Det. Frank Russo, NYPD. Stunning model Carla Sanders has just dumped him; his inability to get over the breakup has made him miss his publisher’s deadline for three essays on police procedure; and now he’s been tasked with catching the Wine Bottle Killer. Sexual violence is rarely associated with the female of the species, yet the forensics indicate that the killer who sodomized Jack Beatty, Joey Brewer and Phil Chesbro with wine bottles—with more vintages sure to follow—was a woman who wore Jean Naté, didn’t dye her hair and clearly harbored a serious grudge against the male sex. Is the Wine Bottle Killer call girl Crystal Wilcox, whose occasional habit of slumming with johns in dark alleys has already had dire consequences? Or could it be someone with a more innocent façade, like Frank’s ex-therapist Susan Lehman, his new girlfriend Denise Johnson or her fellow textbook editor Gina Ponte? Barcomb (Undercurrent, 2006, etc.) keeps the pot furiously boiling as Frank’s investigations bring him closer and closer to the psychotic, avenging Lucky—even as her murderous father, just out of prison, works to track her down.
The plot creaks, the characters have no more depth than license plates and every cliché of the cop-versus-serial-killer genre is brazenly flourished. But the warp speed of Barcomb’s storytelling will keep you turning pages long after you’ve sworn to give up.