Alex Delaware does not appear in this novel; he is only mentioned briefly due to the fact that he has worked with one of the detectives previously.
There are some truly horrific murders described in gruesome and prolonged detail in this story…which makes me quite happy.
This is a police procedural that has it all: murderers to apprehend, character relationships to explore, and the tension of a race against time.
Hollywood homicide detective Petra Conner hopes to take it easy after just solving two murders; however, she is awakened by a 1:15 AM call that four teenagers have just been gunned down in the parking lot of the Paradiso Club on Sunset Boulevard. Disappointingly, the eighteen “know-nothing” witnesses provide minimal information, no leads and no motive. In fact, the mystery is compounded by the fact that one of the young victims has no identification. Thus, the department quickly reduces the manpower assigned to the case and it appears that it may end up in the cold case file.
While Petra doggedly continues to search for leads in that case, she is approached by Isaac Gomez, a twenty-one year old genius who is writing his Ph.D. thesis in epidemiology and biostatistics. While Isaac researches his topic, which involves patterns of LA homicides, he is working as a LAPD intern assigned to Petra by a captain who dislikes her intensely. Isaac’s statistical analysis has uncovered a seeming repetitive pattern linking several unsolved murders which previously seemed totally random and unrelated. Worse yet, if Isaac’s seemingly bizarre analysis is correct, the serial killer will violently kill another victim in a few short weeks. After some initial skepticism, Petra decides she needs to privately investigate Isaac’s thesis even as she hopes that he is wrong.
Juxtaposed against these investigations but extremely central to the plot are the frustrations of Petra’s and Isaac’s private lives. Due to his Special Forces military background, Eric Stahl, Petra’s former partner and current lover, has been sent on a secret mission abroad as part of the new Homeland Security Squad. Meanwhile, Isaac has to handle the dichotomy between his evenings with his poor family in the marginal neighborhood in which they live and the elite world to which his intellect has gained him access.
This plot definitely has more than enough misdirection and action to keep it interesting. Meanwhile, the tight timeline adds considerable suspense as the countdown toward the apparent date of the next murder rapidly proceeds. I especially liked Isaac, a precocious young man whose intellectual development had far outpaced his social skills, a fact which leads to many anxious moments and difficult situations.