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Awakened by gunshots, ex-cop Stacy Killian gets up to investigate and finds two bodies in a neighboring home. Over the objections of Spencer Malone, the homicide detective assigned to the case, Stacy looks into the matter because it's personal—one of the women was a friend. Her conclusion: The deaths are connected in some way to a role- playing game invented by a man named Leo Noble.

Spencer is skeptical about Stacy's theory, but her instincts are correct. Her involvement with the case and proximity to Noble put Stacy in danger, but she's unwilling to back off—which is just one of the things Spencer eventually finds attractive about her.

Spindler excels at creating moody, intense stories with flawed and multi-dimensional characters, and both skills are much in evidence here. The ending's a bit of a shocker too—in a good way. (Jun., 384 pp., $19.95)
Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer