Onyx, Oct 2004, 6.99, 304 pp.
The Torcher, a serial arsonist, blows up Maskers Tavern in the French Quarter, killing the son and heir apparent of mob chief Frank Belafini, the wife of the younger mobster, and thirteen other people. New Orleans Police Detective Teresa Vincent is temporarily reassigned from Homicide (until her partner returns from his honeymoon (see INTO THE FIRE) to the organized crime unit. Her new boss Sebastian Ruel assigns her to investigate the Torcher arsons as the man has links to the mob. He especially wants her to look at Fire Marshall Cort Gamble who he believes is the culprit.
Teri, who loves him although he rejected her following a one night stand, refuses to believe that Cort is the killer although each fire contained a victim linked to the Fire Marshall. As Terri digs deep, Cort, at first in his official capacity and than as a desperate man, tries to prove his innocence against a tidal wave of evidence pointing to his guilt. He loves Terri, but worries that the Torcher has targeted his women so she could be next if the fiery killer learns how he feels about her.
Terri is a terrific cop who though she loves Cort will seek the truth even if he proves to be the Torcher. Cort is a beleaguered lead protagonist who sees the obvious ties back to him, but cannot figure out who is using the rope to hang him or why he has a deadly enemy murdering innocent victims.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner