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The Girls He Adored
ISBN 0671787268 / 9780671787264 / 0-671-78726-8
Publisher Simon & Schuster
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Of all the rules a serial killer might choose to ignore, the costliest may be rolling through a red light within sight of a vigilant sheriff's deputy. But in Jonathan Nasaw's latest thriller, The Girls He Adored, that's exactly what he does. As the deputy tells it: "But when I look in, I see this blond girl, couldn't have been more than eighteen, she's sitting straight up holding her stomach with both hands. She's wearing a white sweater that looks like it's dyed in overlapping bands of red at the bottom, and she has the strangest expression on her face. Just, you know, puzzled--I'll never forget that expression. I ask her if she's okay, she lifts up her sweater with both hands, and her guts spill out on her lap."
A number of strawberry blondes have disappeared over the past 11 years. If rumpled FBI Special Agent E.L. Pender's correct, the unfortunate woman above is number 13. The good news is that "Casey" (after the gent with a passion for strawberry blondes from the song "And the Band Played On") is in custody, undergoing evaluation by court-appointed psychologist Irene Cogan.
The bad news is that before Pender can prove that Casey--or, given his dissociative identity disorder, Max, Christopher, Kinch, Lyssy, Alicia, et al-- is his man, the suspect breaks jail, gives Pender the slip, and takes Dr. Cogan on a hellish ride of psychosexual perversion. It ends on a nightmarish farm that could scare the pants off Dante.
How much Nasaw owes to Thomas Harris and his friend Hannibal Lecter is beside the point. In Casey/Max, Nasaw's crafted a true monstrosity; in Irene, a masterful adversary; in E.L. Pender, a cop as fine and likable as any you've met in some time. And he's wrapped them in a story like none you've lately read. --Michael Hudson [via]