Carr is an ex-cop. Not because he wanted to be unemployed but because of the kid he had shot. To atone for this, he constantly seeks places out of public view to apply lit cigarettes to his foot. Other than that he is normal except for a weird sense of humor and acceptance of strange things that happen to him. The dead cat that was thrown through an office window was weird. That he would wander around the office stepping on broken glass for many days after shows the acceptance that Carr has for unexpected events.
It is logical that Carr would move into his role of private investigator after having been a cop. While investigating cases he tried to use his former police force contacts, but Lieutenant Barrera was having none of that. His signature line throughout the novel relates to the quid pro quo relationship for sharing information in murder investigations. Barrera states the same thing in many different ways, “I give quid, bet get no quo.” Beginning with one murder, but soon becoming multiple murders, the two appear together throughout the novel as they do not share information but meet frequently to emphasize the deficiency.
And there are lots of murders. The first occurs with no involvement from Carr. A sado- masochism sex act that went too far has left the police with a truncated body and no forensic clues. Cut up pieces of a photo of the victim was found at the scene. Carr receives a call from Constance Barnes, a distressed potential client, who has received cut up photos of herself. Believing that there is a stalker threatening Barnes, Carr discovers the fact of cut up photos at the previous murder site of Melanie Kowalski. For Carr, there is a match and this is a serial killer. For Barrera, serial killing is an administrative nightmare and he resists all Carr’s efforts to make a connection.
Carr finds a connection. All the victims have something to do with psychiatry or psychology. If the victims themselves are not psychiatrists or psychologists, they had been previously. Or they were in a relationship with someone who had such a background. A real problem for Carr is that as his investigation proceeds, everyone he visits, interviews, interrogates, or asks for help, dies. Carr hopes to solve the cases before his client, Constance Barnes, gets killed. He almost fails at this when Constance, seemingly resigned to a foreordained fate, tries to kill herself.
This is a pleasant story to read, a comfortable weekend read, not overly taxing to the mind of the reader trying to figure out who the killer is. There are a couple of possibilities offered up. If the reader chooses the wrong one, he can comfort himself with “Yeah, but this would have been my second choice.”
The fun of the book for the reader is the tongue-in-cheek, understated humor expressed through dialogue between most of the characters. Except for Lieutenant Barrera. He has no sense of humor but seems doomed to say the same thing in multiple guises.
A good, pleasant read reminiscent of a favorite 30-minute TV episode that you want to see … again.