NYPD detective Ben Tolliver investigates a series of seemingly motiveless murders
A beautiful woman strides into a jewelry store and asks to try on the finest diamond they have. After admiring it in the mirror, she draws a revolver and kills everyone in the shop, screaming, “Horrible! Vile! Hideous! Filthy!” As the smoke clears, she looks at the security camera, puts the pistol in her mouth, and pulls the trigger.
Who was this woman? Why did she kill, and why did she turn the gun on herself? The case falls to Detective Ben Tolliver, a homicide cop who is not afraid of asking tough questions. The killer was the daughter of a major political player who will do whatever it takes to cover up his child’s troubled past. At the root of the conspiracy is a disturbed doctor whose experiments go far beyond ethical science, and who has the power to destroy Tolliver’s mind, body, and soul.
The hokiness that hallmarked Harvey's three previous Ben Tolliver, NYPD thrillers peaks in this fourth (after Flesh and Blood, 1994). Like a latter-day Sax Rohmer, the author stirs in ravenous rats, experiments on severed human brains, a beautiful woman-turned-sex-slave and a villain with the delicious name of Dr. Jonas Drang. Every bit the mad scientist, Drang, in his desire to transform the human brain and psyche, has been conducting illicit drug experiments on his psychiatric patients that have led to a high-profile attempted robbery and a series of random, motiveless murders in New York City. Tolliver is the cop investigating the crimes. Harvey's prose throughout remains bright and remarkably clean, no small feat given the gruesome nature of much of the action. While there's not much depth to the characters or themes, there is a certain deadpan charm to the sheer melodrama of it all; no doubt Dr. Fu Manchu is grinning in his grave.