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Veteran historical fiction writer McCullough (The Thorn Birds) tries her hand at the police procedural with mixed results. In 1965 Connecticut, at a thinly disguised Yale University research lab, the horrifying discovery of a young female's torso and limbs leads to the grim realization that a very clever and ritualistic serial killer-one who favors murdering innocent, adolescent girls of mixed-race backgrounds-is on the loose. Lt. Carmine Delmonico pits his team against the lab's eccentric researchers, all of whom initially radiate guilt. Once Delmonico wins the allegiance of the lab's business manager, Desdemona Dupre, the clues begin lining up. Clunky dialog and an overabundance of red herrings make this closed-room drama drag at first, but McCullough's storytelling strengths take over as she weaves all sorts of odd psychological elements together and leaves the door open to sequels. There's nothing cozy about this whodunit; it's a direct tribute to the late crime fiction writer Ngaio Marsh. Recommended for readers of British procedurals and dedicated serial killer genre fans. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/06.]-Teresa L. Jacobsen, Solano Cty. Lib., Fairfield, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Australian McCullough (The Thorn Birds) portrays one of the creepiest serial killers in recent fiction in this intelligent shocker set in 1965 at an Ivy League university called Chubb located in Holloman, Conn. After an animal lab technician finds a partial corpse in the Hughlings Jackson Center for Neurological Research (aka "Hug"), police lieutenant Carmine Delmonico discovers that this murder is only one of many-with more to come-committed by a meticulous serial rapist/killer who saves the heads of his victims. The monster leaves so few clues that Delmonico calls him "the Ghost" and the newspapers "the Connecticut Monster." Despite the lack of fancy forensic tools, the determined detective discovers that the Ghost may be connected to a 1930s cold case. Adding heat to the investigation is the African-American community's outrage at the killer's preference for young women of mixed racial origins and Delmonico's growing romantic attachment to an endangered Hug employee. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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