Nobody writes better than Jan Burke about the real world of print journalism, and that aspect of her latest Irene Kelly mystery is as strong as ever. The tensions of being the wife of a cop and continuing to work as a crime reporter in the Southern California desert city of Las Piernas have increased with each big story Irene covers: it's almost as though her associates are waiting for her to make some mistake, to fumble a story. When an edgy, rebellious teenage girl asks her to look for her missing mother, Irene crosses the path of a very dangerous serial killer--Nicholas Parrish. He is one of those totally anonymous but enormously gifted and resourceful villains found only in fiction. Parrish kills women who happen to look like Irene (and his abusive mother), and attracts devoted disciples to his grisly cause. Because of Irene's involvement, several more lives are damaged or endangered, and the strain takes its toll on the reporter's mental stability.
Burke is such a fine, realistic writer that she can tread her way carefully across territory already well covered by Patricia Cornwell, Jeffery Deaver, Thomas Harris, et al. and still find something new to say about ritual murder and forensic science. But her real talent is bringing to full, instant life a remarkable woman--and the city she lives and works in. --Dick Adler
Only one person knows where Julia Sayre is: her killer. Four years ago, the young mother of two disappeared, a story that soon became a personal mission for Irene Kelly. But the search for Julia proved fruitless. Now, on death row for unimaginable acts of torture and murder, inmate Nick Parrish is pleabargaining for a life sentence, promising to lead investigators -- and Irene -- into the dark isolation of the Sierra Nevadas, where they will discover what really happened to Julia Sayre. But Parrish has other terrifying secrets and plans, and now his deadly focus is on a new potential victim -- Irene Kelly.