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 NYPD procedural veteran Caunitz (Black Sand, Suspects, One Police Plaza) coasts on his bestselling reputation in this pumped-up tale pitting still another department stalwart against an unusually preposterous psycho. In this corner, then: recent widower (melanoma) Lt. John Vinda, recalled from exile in Missing Persons to put himself on the line by solving a series of slashings of young women before the media realizes they're connected and jumps all over the case; and a chosen squad of basically interchangeable mavericks who don't mind bending a few rules. (After the confession Vinda extorts from a bomb supplier turns out to be bogus, two women from the squad go on their own to extort a second, accurate, confession.) And in this corner--his identity doesn't stay secret for long--Michael Worthington, stuntman-turned- actor, also in mourning for his wife, who left the convent to marry him but was killed by a stray police bullet soon after the wedding. As a killer, Worthington clearly has it in for the police, but that doesn't prevent the entire squad from obligingly gathering at his behest at One Police Plaza so that he can blow them all up--if only Vinda doesn't put two and two together in time. The hang-up that dictates the pattern of Worthington's revenge is deliciously absurd just by itself but, better still, it allows Vinda, after a series of feints padded out by exotic sex (S/M, masturbation, lesbianism, and coitus interruptus--the one unremarkable sexual encounter naturally takes place offstage), to exorcize his grief in a sublimely silly sequel to the bombing. Exciting as ever--but disappointingly routine under the trappings. And the killer is treated with a surprising lack of conviction.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-517-58485-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1991


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