St. Martin's, Mar 2002, 24.95, 384 pp.
The case was as obvious as any facing the Minneapolis Police Department. Frank Beck lost his electronics business, has been estranged from most of his family, and suffered from colon cancer. So when his son found him hanging, the official word is suicide. However, the officer on the scene Danny Borg felt strongly that two things seemed out of character. First the noose was poster boy perfect as if Frank was an expert, something no one collaborated. Then there was the weird numbers on his arm that mean nothing, at least to Borg.
First Response Unit Detective Mars Bahr decides to look into Beck's demise. Soon other similar deaths follow. Subsequently Mars learns that the digits left on each victim's arm is tied back to a Civil War regiment whose descendants are marked for murder. With the help of an army of genealogists, Mars tries to uncover the identity of a serial killer.
THE DEAD SURVIVORS is at its best when the story line glimpses into Mars' personal life such especially when he interacts with his son. That enables the audience to look deep inside the hero and see what he is made of. The sleuthing is fun, however, several subplots not only fail to return to the prime story line, but also are left dangling. Though not as good as THIRD PERSON SINGULAR, K.J. Erickson provides police procedural readers with a fine entry due to the likable lead character, but is he enough to merit a trip to Mars?
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner