It started with two young, wannabe actors claiming they had been kidnapped and abused, but it turned out to be an elaborate hoax. Psychologist Alex Delaware is asked to examine the female hoaxer, Michaela Brand, for her court appearance. The actors are slapped with community service, but soon after, Michaela turns up strangled and stabbed.

Using Alex's sketchy knowledge of Michaela as a starting point, Los Angeles police detective Milo Stugis tries to find out why someone would kill her. That Michaela's partner in crime, Dylan Meserve, also disappears is alarming. Is he a victim or a killer on the run? As Milo and Alex retrace the last months of Michaela's life, they're caught in a quagmire of death and misdirection.

Crisp writing and a clever, if horrific, plot make this one of Kellerman's best works to date. The suspense is gripping and the psychology twisted as Kellerman leads readers into the gruesome world of a serial killer. (Apr., 365 pp., $26.95)
Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith