Bitter Instinct Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Bitter Instinct

When FBI medical examiner Dr. Jessica Coran is called to Philadelphia to oversee a case involving a series of bizarre and literal poison pen murders in which the poison is etched into the skin of the victims in a loving and haunting poem, Jessica begins to piece the poetry together to solve the most bloodless crimes she has ever had to deal with. Without the usual mutilation murder, she is at first at a loss for why she has been called in until she learns that her former lover, James Perry from Hawaii is now Bureau Chief in Philly and he wants her (on the case) to speak. BITTER INSTINCT comes out in April in paperback and is currently available in hardcover.
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The review of this Book prepared by Author Robert W. Walker

Robert W. Walker
Berkley, May 2001

    He calls himself the Poet. His targets trust him so much so they cooperate as he engraves a piece of his epic verse on their backs. His victims are unaware that the ink is poison and soon leads to a swift, painless death. The Poet believes that his victims are angels who must return home so that when every one of them are finally gone, he will be transferred into an angel too.

    After the third similar death, the Philadelphia police realize they have made no progress in catching this serial killer that leaves a calling card. The FBI sends two agents, medical examiner Dr. Jessica Coran and psychic expert Kim Desinow, to join the local task force. They quickly learn that the young have taken to having poetry written on their backs as a form of twisted homage. This makes tracing clues that much more difficult as this counterculture phenomena hides the culprit's trail behind wrong suspects. As the murder count rises, the City of Brotherly Love Task Force finds little to feel friendly about as they fail to gain any ground on identifying the murderer.

    BITTER INSTINCT is a very frightening police thriller that shows the difficulty in catching a destructive individual when society adopts him as a hero. Robert W. Westlake combines the best of Cornwell with Koontz in this psychological terror investigative novel. The heroine is quite good as a person struggling to profile a “popular” killer whose camouflage is inadvertently developed by the teens of the city. Mr. Walker has another captivating novel that readers will fully appreciate.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

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Chapter Analysis of Bitter Instinct

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 20%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 20%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999    -   2000+ (Present) Medical Thriller    -   Yes Medical Plotlets:    -   poisoning Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book The crook is....    -   stalking/killing innocents Crime Thriller    -   Yes General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes Who's the criminal enemy here?    -   finding a known killer

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   police/lawman    -   doctor Age:    -   20's-30's Has special powers?    -   Yes Magical/mental powers of main character:    -   can read emotions    -   is very quick Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American Unusual characteristics:    -   Super genius


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast    -   Mid-Atlantic states City?    -   Yes City:    -   Dirty, dangerous (like New York)    -   dangerous Misc setting    -   scientific labs

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   touching of anatomy    -   orgies    -   lesbians!    -   descript. of male nudity    -   homosexuals doing their thing A lot of techno jargon?    -   Yes Kind of jargon?    -   biology/medical Unusual forms of death    -   poisoning    -   biohazard/virus Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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