Nashville Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson is called to the scene of a homicide, where the body of a young woman, sans hands, has been discovered. When a hand is found near the crime scene, DNA proves it doesn’t belong to the murdered woman but to another woman, whose body was found in another state. This brings the FBI into play, via Taylor’s lover, profiler Dr. John Baldwin. The Southern Strangler, as the killer comes to be known, goes on a killing spree throughout the South, crossing state lines, leaving the bodies of young women behind, all missing their hands, but with another woman’s hand nearby. And his kills are escalating at a fast rate. Baldwin and Taylor team up to catch him although Taylor gets temporarily sidetracked pursuing a serial rapist named the Rainman while Baldwin travels in the killer’s footsteps. But soon the two are back together, hot on the heels of the killer.
Taylor Jackson is not your archetypical Southern Belle. A woman from a wealthy family, she chose the life of a cop over that of a privileged soccer mom. She’s well-educated, intelligent and tough mentally and physically, but her one weakness is Baldwin. The two are a winning combo and their personas complement one another. Peripheral characters are nicely developed, as is the chemistry between Taylor and Baldwin. The plot moves at a fast pace, with gut-wrenching suspense and plenty of action. Ellison’s smart writing places this one apart from other mystery series and is sure to garner a plethora of fans eager for the next book.