Slaughter's first stand-alone is a compelling, bleak tale about the intertwined fates of three men. Atlanta detective Michael Ormewood isn't thrilled about partnering with stoic Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Will Trent to solve a series of grisly prostitute murders. But when Michael's neighbor is killed, he must rely on Will to find out whether it's their serial murderer or a copycat killer.

Evidence points to John Shelley, a recently released convict. Imprisoned as a teenager, he served 20 brutal years for the murder of a classmate -- a murder that mirrors the current string of deaths and that John swears he didn't commit.

Slaughter delves deeply into their tragic personal lives. Michael has a troubled marriage and a disabled child; Will was an abused child, and state homes left him with severely malnourished social skills; but John's possibly wrongful imprisonment is the most horrifying of all, rife with it-could-happen-to-you implications. The plotting and characterization are gripping and clever as always -- with a couple of big twists in there for good measure -- but the overwhelming sense of tragedy leaves a depressing aftermath. (Aug., 390 pp., $25.00)
Reviewed by: 
Tara Gelsomino