The second book in Novak's Last Stand series takes the reader to some terribly dark places -- the blackest of all possibly being its hero's psyche. There's enough humor and sizzle to keep the proceedings from getting too grim, however.

Sixteen years ago, psychological profiler Jasmine Stratford's sister, Kimberly, was kidnapped. Her body was never found, and the case went cold. Unexpectedly, Jasmine receives a package containing a bracelet she gave Kimberly -- along with a cryptic note written in blood: STOP ME. Based on the postmark, Jasmine heads to New Orleans, where she meets Romain Fornier, an ex-soldier whose young daughter was kidnapped and murdered.

Unlike Jasmine, Romain got a form of closure when he shot the man responsible. Or did he? Jasmine believes the killer of Romain's daughter is the same man who took Kimberly, and clearly he's still at large. Which means other kids are at risk, so the clock's ticking. (MIRA, Jul., 448 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer