A serial killer is murdering women in San Francisco and videotaping the horrific acts. The killer's latest victim, though, isn't quite dead. The injured woman, found barely clinging to life, is rushed to the hospital where emergency room physician Dr. Vivian (Vivi) Dexter treats her before surgery - but Vivi's not hopeful the victim will survive.
Meanwhile, Vivi's Aunt Fen, who raised Vivi and her sister JC, has a little adventure of her own. It's a stormy night and a man named Alex crashes into a tree near Fen's house and knocks on her door for assistance. Though Fen is suspicious of Alex at first, she tends to his wounds, gives him dinner, and lets him rest up. Alex is 'a younger man', but Fen is strongly attracted to him (why not, right? ha ha ha). Alex isn't quite available though, because his girlfriend was a victim of the serial killer - and Alex is determined to find the villain.
Vivi, who's been in a romantic slump since she broke up with her fiancé, is soon being pursued by two men: Detective Brad Merlin, who's heading the hunt for the serial murderer; and Dr. Ralph Sandowski, a psychiatrist who (unofficially) profiles the killer. Vivi's life gets even more hectic when her sister JC - a kind of 'wild child' - shows up on her doorstep. To top it off, Alex seeks treatment at Vivi's hospital and makes it his business to get acquainted with her.
Before long all these people - Vivi, JC, Brad, Ralph, and Alex - are going for drinks and dinner in various combinations. Dr. Ralph even offers JC a job in his side business, an antique store. There are also a couple of dog characters in the story: Aunt Fen's 12-year-old pooch Hector; and Brad's pink poodle, Flyin' Fool - inherited from his former wife.
The story alternates between the main characters and the serial killer, who's decompensating and behaving recklessly. The killer's thoughts reveal his ultimate goal - to kill Vivi. (dum dum dum dum!!)
On the plus side this is a mildly taut psychological thriller. And I like Detective Brad Merlin, who works hard to solve the case and eats a lot of dim sum.....as does his poodle. (When you're chasing a murderer you gotta grab food when you can. LOL).
On the down side:
1. There should be more suspects to rev up the suspense and the main characters should be more endangered.....to keep the readers on the edge of their seats.
2. The tangled romantic overtures among the characters, many of whom seem to flirt with each other, is confusing. At one point it seems like Fen and JC are after the same guy (not cool).
3. For Dr. Ralph to hire JC, who knows nothing about antiques, to sell the merchandise in his store is ridiculous. You have to be an expert to sell antiques.
4. The book doesn't end when the killer is revealed but goes on and on with 'romance stuff.' This part is tiresome and expendable.
I'm not a big fan of romance stories so - for me - this book was just okay. Fans of romantic mysteries, though, might really like this book.
Rating: 3 stars