Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Book of Matthew by Thomas White

Winning lead characters and smooth prose more than offset the standard thriller plot, a cat-and-mouse duel between a San Francisco police inspector and a sadistic serial killer, in White's promising debut. Insp. Clemson Yao of the SFPD pursues a killer responsible for such gruesome murders as that of a 32-year-old Chevron gas station manager, whose body is found torn in half at the waist by a system of counter weights in the Salinas Valley. One cop observes that the MO resembles the way some criminals were executed in 18th-century India. Yao is aided in his quest by Angie Strackan, an ex-cop turned realtor, who stumbles on another instance of the killer's handiwork. The inspector comes to believe that the main suspect, who's identified fairly early on, is increasing the pace of his butchery because he's terminally ill. Yao and company have enough quirks and humanity to make the prospect of a series a welcome one.

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