Police consultant/psychologist Alex Delaware and his sidekick, Homicide Detective Milo Sturgis, return for the thirtieth time in this novel, and perhaps my lack of real enthusiasm for the book simply reflects the fact that I've read all of the twenty-nine earlier entries and the formula seems to have gotten somewhat repetitive and stale, at least for me.
Part of the problem, I think, is that the characters have not grown, developed or changed in any significant way for a very long time. The two main characters have been settled in their respective committed relationships for a long time now; there's no news there, and each of their partners makes a token appearance or two in the book, for no real apparent reason, save to remind us, I guess, that they're still around.
I've also grown really tired of Milo Sturgis who may be a fairly good detective but who otherwise is really an unlikable slob. I long ago tired of the way he stuffs himself like a pig at every opportunity and he really doesn't seem to have any especially appealing characteristics. This is not a guy I would like to hang out with in real life for any length of time, and I don't especially enjoy hanging around with him in these books much any more.
Also, as I've complained before, unlike the earlier books in this series, there often seems to be no real need for Milo to be dragging Delaware along on these cases. He's no longer being paid by the department to officially consult, at least in this book. So what's he doing getting involved?
As this book opens, Milo has a case he hasn't been able to solve involving the murder of a young woman and so, rather than turning to other detectives or experts in the department he decides to ask Alex to take a look at it, which really isn't very logical. There is an aspect of the case that might benefit from some psychological analysis, but it's a pretty thin reed upon which to hang Delaware's involvement.
Alex is of no real help and then another woman is killed. Initially, there's no apparent connection between the two cases, but nonetheless, Alex is along for the ride here too. As the book progresses, other victims will fall and it soon becomes apparent that there are at least a few pretty sick people around the fringes of this case. Alex will offer some psychological insights, but if the killer or killers are to be found, what's really going to be needed is some good, basic, old-fashioned police work, and there's simply no plausible reason why Delaware should be doing it, save for the fact that he's the main protagonist in the series.
The story itself is OK, but it doesn't rise to the standards of the earlier books in the series and really didn't get my heart racing as much as a thriller should. I'm still holding out hope, though, that sooner or later we'll get a new book that recaptures the mojo that made this series and Alex Delaware so compelling early on.