A Serial Affair
†By Natalie Dunbar
(SRS †#1470, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-27540-3
***
A serial killer is stalking Chicago. The victims are male and of similar ages, and are perceived to be by the same killer because of the vicious nature of the killings .

The latest victim is not only a friend of the mayor but he had been planning his daughter. Therefore the department hierarchy is taking flak and forced to cooperate with the FBI in setting up a task force.

Chicago Police Lieutenant Reed Crawford wanders into his superior's office looking for a high profile assignment to help garner a promotion. His frazzled boss designates him to be the department liaison with the FBI agent being sent. Reed is more tolerant toward working with the FBI than most locals, as he had aspired to being an agent but had been forced to put aside those dreams to help care for his mother.

Special Agent Maria Santos has been recently promoted and is called upon by her new boss to "prove herself" as he assigns her to the high profile task force to solve the Chicago serial killer cases. When FBI meets local cop, she discovers to her great chagrin that is Reed Crawford who will be working with her. She and Reed have a history, as she had dumped him in favor of a Puerto Rican, of like Spanish culture. The choice between the two was made because of her family's urging and one Maria soon grew to regret. She didnít try to retrieve the romance because she had known the extent of hurt Reed had suffered.

Now, motivated by their respective careers, they commit to work together, putting aside the past; and, work they do. This novel distinguishes itself by having the detectives form plans, and pursue the investigation with some degree of order and finesse. Doing such, they begin to sense the common bond uniting the victims.

The investigation deepens and the romance between Reed and Maria is rekindled. Both plots move side by side with excellent pacing and escalating tension. The protagonists are all likeable, and for a twist, in this story the victims are not. Is the finding of the murderer of such despicable men a real public good? The ending evolves in a natural, as opposed to a contrived resolution. From some of the books that have crossed my desk lately, it is a change that is quite refreshing.

--Thea Davis


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