Ellis, a former partner in a Chicago law firm, isn't squeamish about laying out the gory details in the initial massacre of six young women in 1989 or the copycat atrocities to follow. But the carnage is only the grabber for what is actually a very tricky legal mystery, and Riley, who prosecuted "the most famous serial killer our city has ever seen" when he was a raw youth, doesn't really hit his stride until he walks down those mean corridors that lead to the courtroom.
The New York Times
Some books aren't natural fits for audio. Edgar-winner Ellis's new novel, for example, has a complex plot that hops back and forth between the arrest, conviction and execution of serial killer Terry Burgos in 1989 and 16 years later when Burgos's prosecutor, Paul Riley, is drawn into the investigation of a very similar series of murders, involving many of the same characters. Complicating things even more, the contemporary sections jump from Riley's point of view to that of the demented new killer. Ellis uses chapter breaks, posted dates, italics and a shift from present tense narration to past tense for 1989, efforts that clarify matters in print but are a bit subtle for audio. Even an accomplished and inventive narrator like Dick Hill can only do so much-a pause before announcing a time shift, the use of a distinctive accent for the killer-to keep listener confusion to a minimum. But there's not much any reader could do with a key ingredient of the novel-the nonsense messages left at the crime scenes that contain a coded text that is near-impossible to distinguish by ear. Hill handles the dramatic sequences and thriller elements effortlessly and if one is willing to overlook several perplexing time-warped moments and the impossibility of deciphering the clues before Riley explains them, this audio provides a fair amount of entertainment. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Reviews, May 21) (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
A 15-year-old case gets personal for attorney Paul Riley in the fourth work by Edgar Award winner Ellis (Line of Vision). Author tour. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
From a shark prosecutor's easy win, incalculable losses derive. A slam dunk if ever there was one-that's how the case looks to newly appointed First Assistant County Attorney Paul Riley. The case: six young women brutally murdered on premises belonging to a certain Terry Burgos. Forensic evidence: overwhelming. Alibi: nonexistent. When, in addition, Burgos more or less confesses, the defense is down to the frail hope of an insanity plea. Without working up much of a sweat, Riley disposes of that, and in the process, earns the gratitude of tycoon Harland Bentley, whose personal wealth is estimated at a billion and a half, and whose beloved daughter was one of the six victims. Convicted, Burgos is sentenced to die in the gas chamber and does, and Riley is a witness. There is, to be sure, a moment of unforeseen drama. Before dying, Burgos mouths to Riley: "I'm not the only one." Unsettling, yes, but not for long. The question of legality aside, Burgos was, after all, manifestly crazy. Flash forward 16 years. Riley is now in private practice, head of a substantial firm bulwarked by Harland Bentley's multinational legal business. He is, in short, a player. Suddenly, a new murderous cycle has the city's media buzzing. And there are the notes that begin arriving at Riley's office-creepy, cryptic. Despite himself, Riley investigates-and learns how chimerical truth can be. And how disastrous. Another top-flight legal thriller from Edgar-winner Ellis (In the Company of Liars, 2004, etc.), brimming with quality prose and layered characterizations. And if the plot twists gratuitously a time or two, well, settle. Agent: Larry Kirshbaum/LJK Literary Management