Saturday, January 26, 2008

Separated at Death-Sheldon Rusch

Separated at Death
Sheldon Rusch
Berkley, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780425219485

On the day she became engaged to Brady, Illinois State special agent Elizabeth Hewitt is assigned to what will prove to be one of the most horrific cases of her career. She and the daughter of her mentoring Captain has is daughter Jen Spangler job shadowing her. They are sent to the house of Rita Vandermause. There they find her body in a pool of blood, but her head is nowhere around. The obvious first suspect is the victim’s estranged husband Joe, but he is found dead with his head missing too.

A second couple is soon discovered dead with their heads missing. Elizabeth and Jen seek the common threads and learn the latest pair was estranged and like the first duet went to Big Shoulders Therapies for marriage counseling; the other commonality is psychiatrist Dr. Gerald Boccachio. Matters turn bizarre when pictures of the dead couples dressed up for a wedding are sent to Mundelein Dispatch owner Byron Biffle, whose father was murdered several years ago in a still unsolved case. Elizabeth has quite a list of suspects so she sends Jen to interview the person she considers least dangerous; her assessment will prove wrong.

SEPARATED AT DEATH is an exciting police procedural showcasing an experienced cop mentoring a criminology student who starts off shadowing her but eventually persuades her teacher to allow her some independent field work. Both women are believable as bright and independent role models. There is plenty of action in this complex mystery, but the heart of the tale is the strong cast because this makes for a credible and terrific investigation by the two dedicated sleuths.

Harriet Klausner