On the trail of a serial killer, Alabama detectives Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus uncover a network of wealthy collectors who'll pay top dollar for celebrity slayer artifacts. There is some irony that Kerley calls attention to our nation's unhealthy fascination with murderers in the course of a serial killer novel. Reader Hill aids the author's intent by employing a smarmy, supercilious voice for a key broker of the murder memorabilia and other unpleasant vocal characteristics-arrogance, brutishness-for the collectors. He also provides authentic and distinguishing accents for a large cast of mainly deep South dwellers, including gruff African-American Nautilus and Ryder, who narrates the novel with an unwavering easy-going, slightly whimsical drawl. But Hill's most impressive achievement is in turning Ryder's brother Jeremy, an incarcerated homicidal madman who, as written, is essentially one more Hannibal Lecter clone, into an original, mood-swinging nightmare whose 180-degree shifts from croon to rant can add a chill to the hottest summer weather. Simultaneous release with the Dutton hardcover (Reviews, May 30). (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Perhaps Kerley's 25 years in advertising explain his delight in the macabre, what he calls the shadowy side of human nature. In his debut thriller, The Hundredth Man, he introduced Detective Carson Ryder (small, white) and his partner Harry Nautilus (large, black), who make up a special unit of the Mobile, AL, police force focusing on weird or psychological cases. Here, they investigate a series of murders that seems tied to a dead serial killer whose Charles Manson-like influence may be continuing in his followers. Ryder immerses himself in the bizarre world of wealthy collectors of serial killer leavings, the "death collectors." As in the first book, here he gets help from his brother, himself in a psych ward for multiple killings. Kerley has a subtle touch for complex plotting and employs a shotgun's force of action, a wildly exotic group of characters, and an unusual locale to great effect. As page-turners go, this is a beauty; readers will expect to see more of Ryder and Nautilus. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/05.]-Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.