Kate McKinnon is back -- and this time it's personal.
When two hideously eviscerated bodies are discovered and the only link between them is a bizarre painting left at each crime scene, the NYPD turns to former cop Kate McKinnon, the woman who brought the serial killer the Death Artist to justice. Having settled back into her satisfying life as art historian, published author, host of a weekly PBS television series, and wife of one of New York's top lawyers, Kate wants no part of it.
But Kate's sense of tranquility is shattered when this new sequence of murders strikes too close to home. With grief and fury to fuel her, she rejoins her former partner, detective Floyd Brown, and his elite homicide squad on the hunt for a vicious psychopath known as the Color-Blind Killer. In her rage and desperation, Kate allows herself to be drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse. She abandons her glamorous life for the gritty streets of Manhattan, immersing herself in a world where brutality and madness appear to be the norm, where those closest to her may have betrayed her -- and where, in the end, nothing is what it seems.
In this run-of-the-mill serial killer thriller, nothing much separates Santlofer's psychotic villain from his fictional brethren other than his fancying himself an artist and being cursed with cerebral achromatopsia, unable to see the world in anything other than sludgy shades of gray. His opponent is ex-cop turned art historian Kate McKinnon, heroine of Santlofer's first novel, The Death Artist, and wife of wealthy lawyer Richard Rothstein. When her old NYPD partner Floyd Brown asks her to help identify a new serial killer with an art connection, she feels a familiar stirring of adrenaline. But it's only after husband Richard is murdered in a manner that points to the art killer that she throws herself into the investigation ("Later there would be time to grieve. Now was the time for action"). Santlofer is an artist as well as a writer, and his intimate knowledge of the art world gives this thriller a glimmer of interest. He delivers mini-lectures on painting techniques, the art of the insane, how to dress and act at an art opening and much other art lore, but most readers will find the killer far too derivative to be anything more than grotesque. Thriller newbies who follow art and the New York art scene in particular will find this entertaining, but there's little fresh material for veteran genre enthusiasts.