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Should a detective accompanying a serial killer's most recent victim, who has been brutally raped and is barely breathing, try to hit on the ER doctor who may have just saved the victim's life? Your response to this question may predict your reaction to this page-turner from bestseller Adler (A Place in the Country), which fuses effective if workmanlike suspense with occasionally cringe-worthy romance, set against backdrops ranging from storm-battered Big Sur to the back streets of San Francisco's Chinatown. Their initial encounter notwithstanding, rugged SFPD Det. Brad Merlin and the spunky physician who catches his eye, Dr. Vivian Dexter, are among the most appealing figures in a thriller, some of whose main characters morph wildly to facilitate the plot. And then there are those characters you wish would change, like Dr. Dexter's opinionated Aunt Fen, still an incurable romantic despite having married three times. Even after the white-knuckle climax, key questions remain unanswered, but you'll know how to make Aunt Fen's beef daube. Agent: Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.