I haven’t read a lot of books by Nora Roberts, despite her prolific output. I borrowed this one, as it appeared to be a stand alone in comparison to most of her trilogies, and I didn’t realize at first that it was published way back in the late 1980s! I suppose it was a testament to the story that it didn’t jump out at me immediately that there were no cell phones or Google searches. However, that doesn’t mean it was all good!
The main premise is that someone is killing young blonde women in Washington D.C. , leaving a note behind that their sins have been forgiven. This serial killer is dubbed “The Priest”, and the hunt for him is led by two detectives, Ben Paris and his partner (whose name I’ve already forgotten). Their boss brings in Tess Court, a psychiatrist, to do a profile of the killer and this doesn’t go down well with Ben. He has a beef with psychiatrists ever since his older brother had some mental issues and ended up killing himself. Needless to say, he clashes with Tess but naturally there’s sparks between them as well. Ben is a stereotypical 80s cop that you would expect – he smokes, he drives a fast car, he’s dark and brooding and handsome, and he isn’t interested in a serious romantic relationship. In fact, Ben’s opinions are very misogynistic taken in today’s context. He’s like the heroes in historical romance who are rakes that don’t want to marry until it’s absolutely necessary to produce an heir and a spare, but manage to find true love when they don’t expect it.
Tess is portrayed as calm and reserved, intending to give her opinion on the case and stay out of it. She’s got a busy schedule as it is, but she inevitably ends up being more involved than expected. Her relationship with Ben hums along quickly, even though he seemed to constantly comment that she’s too detached and cold when it came to the victims. She doesn’t fall to pieces at a crime scene, and he can’t wrap his head around the fact that she has to be just as professional about the situation as he is. Then it becomes clear that Tess is the next target for the killer, and they have to work together to find the killer before he strikes again.
Overall, the plot reminded me of either Criminal Minds (or several other police procedural TV shows), and nothing too ground breaking. There’s a side story involved with Tess and one of her other patients that didn’t really fit into the storyline, and I could have done without it. The other issue I had was the constant head-hopping that went on – every paragraph sometimes was from a different character’s POV and it was jarring. I don’t know if this an issue with all of her books, but I found it annoying. I’m sure Ms Roberts has legions of fans out there, but I think it will be awhile before I pick up another one of her books.