Intricate, chilling and filled with heart-stopping suspense, HOCUS, AN IRENE KELLY MYSTERY is a tour de force performance guaranteed to make you a Jan Burke fan for life. Magnificent!

A bad day turns into a hellish nightmare for reporter Irene Kelly when her husband, Homicide Detective Frank Harriman, disappears. Frank's car - with a blood stained trunk - turns up in the parking lot of the Las Piernas News Express with a message from the urban terrorist group HOCUS. Frank has recently been instrumental in the arrest of two prominent members of HOCUS. Is a hostage swap what they have in mind?

HOCUS has its own agenda that Irene must carry out, or Frank will die. Twelve years ago, while serving on the Bakersfield police force, Frank was involved in a case known as the Father's Day murders. Dr. Gene Ryan and Julian Neukirk were brutally stabbed to death before their young sons. Frank was the officer who discovered the bodies and rescued the small boys. The killer was supposedly found dead shortly thereafter. Now HOCUS demands that Irene discover who in the Bakersfield Police Department was part of the massacre.

The deadline is tight and the trail cold, leaving a desperate Irene searching for the truth that may save Frank's life.

(May, 336 pp., $22.00)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith