book cover of Pretty Little Things
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Pretty Little Things

A novel by

For some time now, there's been a name to add to that list of women writers unhampered by the traditional discretion that has been such a straitjacket for their sex - a growing number of female authors are ready to confront the more gruesome aspects of human behaviour. Their number includes Karin Slaughter, Patricia Cornwell and Karen Rose -- and notable in that company is the American Jilliane Hoffman. Hoffman's Retribution firmly established the writer as one of the most uncompromising practitioners in the serial killer field, and Last Witness consolidated the sterling work done in that book. And here's Pretty Little Things, Hoffman's latest (on the jacket of which her publisher invokes the names of the women above - with justification).

After a date on Halloween, Lainey Emerson disappears, along with a new boyfriend. This individual, known only by the nickname of El Captain, is the obvious suspect. Bobby Dees, the tenacious special agent of Florida's crack Crimes Against Children squad, is the one person who may be able to find her -- and he is both helped and hindered by the fact that he knows only too well how it feels to lose a child. But all of his resources are called upon by a nemesis who always seems to be one step ahead - and time is running out for the missing girl.

As in Retribution, this high-octane narrative is dispatched with maximum efficiency by the unsentimental Jilliane Hoffman. The author has a strong background in Florida law enforcement, which she cannily parleys into the verisimilitude of the storytelling here. If you prefer not to be disturbed by your crime fiction, steer clear. The rest of us will be very reluctant to put down Pretty Little Things before we've finished it. --Barry Forshaw

Genre: Mystery

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