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In order to escape the death penalty, a serial killer agrees to show authorities the grave of one of his victims in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Leaving a fretful detective husband behind, inveterate reporter Irene Kelly follows the taunting psychopathic killer, his guards, guides, two forensic anthropologists, a photographer, and one amazing canine into the wilderness. A traumatic reversal, however, turns the already risky journey into a lethal game of the hunter and the hunted. Detailed surroundings, chilling prose, and an unforgettable, "isolated-with-a-killer" plot recommend this for all collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Hannibal Lechter clone Nick Parrish is the hideous "star" of Burke's latest Irene Kelly mystery. Parrish, arrested for the torture-murder of Julia Sayre, promises to show the cops where he's buried Julia's body in the mountains above Las Piernas. Journalist Kelly has followed the Sayre case since it began, and the police grudgingly allow her to come along on the gruesome trip to Julia's grave. True to his word, Parrish leads the group to the decomposing body, then offers to show them the graves of other victims he claims he's killed. But Parrish has booby-trapped the graves, and once the bomb goes off, he escapes in the ensuing confusion. A heart-stopping chase through the mountains, with Irene as Parrish's intended victim, would provide a fitting climax for the story, but Burke has more suspense in store. Irene is rescued, but Parrish is still loose, and over the following months, he stalks Irene relentlessly. Gruesome "gifts" and a campaign of physical and psychological terror would turn most folks into basket cases, but Parrish's tricks only make Irene more determined to track him down. Burke's latest is very impressive--deviously plotted, cleverly crafted, full of screw-tightening suspense. This may be the book to take Burke to the top tier of literary and popular success in the genre. --Emily Melton
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In her seventh outing (after Liar, 1998), journalist Irene Kelly is part of the investigative team on the hunt for serial killer Nicholas Parrish's many victims. Their graves are in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, and Parrish, having entered a plea bargain, is there too, leading the team to the women's corpses in exchange for a life sentence instead of the death penalty. But Parrish has planned a surprise or two. When a grave explodes, most of the team are killed, Irene flees, and the killer escapes. Back home, Irene continues to work at the behest of Gillian Sayre, the daughter of one victim. Her hunt for Parrish is made considerably easier by his growing obsession with her. A cunning psychopath with a calm demeanor, Parrish heavily resembles Hannibal Lecter. Rather than eat his victims, however, he tortures and dismembers them. Burke spends the first third of the novel overbuilding Parrish's reputation, so by the time she actually depicts his depravity the horrors are a bit anticlimatic. Later, the killer's mysterious accomplice, "The Moth," will be too easily identified by readers, especially after Burke unsuccessfully labors to mask his/her gender. And Parrish is only generically, not memorably twisted. Though Irene and other characters are well wrought and realistic, too many red herrings are introduced, all meant to distract the reader from the true evil, which, once fully revealed, just isn't quite evil enough. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved