Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cut to the Quick- Dianne Emley

Cut to the Quick
Dianne Emley
Ballantine, Jan 27 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345486202

Although she has physically healed from her brutal knife attack two years ago (see THE FIRST CUT), Pasadena homicide detective Nan Vining remains emotionally traumatized especially since her attacker has not been apprehended. When she enters the mansion of millionaire Oliver Mercer to investigate the brutal double murders, Nan fears she will not be ready to cope with what she sees. Someone using a hacksaw carved up Mercer and his girlfriend, art-museum administrator Lauren Richards.

Vining interrogates Mercer’s business partner Mark Scoville, who initially seems friendly as he responds to her questions. However, abruptly he refuses to answer her inquiries and demands a lawyer be present. Shocked by his change in demeanor and cooperation, Vining ends her interview for now, but focuses on phone calls between him and former con man Jack Jenkins in which Scoville spoke disparagingly about his partner. She wonders if Jenkins killed Mercer and Richards showed up at her lover’s home at the wrong time. However, Vining’s concentration is distracted when the police arrest a vagabond mute Nitro who possesses disconcerting drawings of the assaults of Vining, a Tucson police detective, and other unknown apparently female cops; she wonders if her perp she calls TB Mann is a serial killer.

This fast-paced sequel stars a cop still mentally reeling from her near death assault (see THE FIRST CUT), which makes her refreshing as she has doubts about her effectiveness and is obsessed with Mann. The investigation into the graphic homicide in many ways takes a back seat to Vining’s psychological trauma (wonder how she passed a police psychological screening?). Still the whodunit is fun to follow as the cops seek a particular brutal killer even if the death scene keeps reminding Vining of her own death scene, which sets up future thrillers in this series (see THE DEEPEST CUT).

Harriet Klausner