Monday, November 05, 2007

The Red Scream

The Red Scream, the first Molly Cates mystery by Mary Willis Walker, won the Edgar Award in 1995. It is a page-turner. It's a crime novel focusing on convicted serial killer Louie Bronk and the crime reporter who has written a book about the murder for which he received the death penalty.

from the back of the book:

Her subject is murder - now it could be the death of her....

Tough, stubborn, and relentless as the oil drills that hammer her native Texas landscape, Molly Cates writes about death for Lone Star Monthly. The subject of her first book was Louie Bronk, a.k.a. the Texas Scalper, a brutal serial killer scheduled for execution. In a macabre gesture, Bronk has invited Molly to his last day on earth along with several of his final victim's relatives. With the execution only days away, Cates figures to write the last chapter on her disturbing relationship with the most evil human being she has ever known. Little does she expect she will face pressure to back off the story from the most unlikely sources: her boss at Lone Star Monthly and the husband of the woman whose murder got Bronk the death penalty. Then comes the poem from an anonymous letter writer whose lines contain a chilling message:

Now that Louie's doomed to die
I may give his craft a try.

And when the first body turns up, Molly is forced to consider that Bronk might be executed for the wrong reason - and that a second killer is on the loose...

There was a good balance between the protagonist's professional and personal lives. I didn't know what had really happened until right at the end, but I didn't feel like Willis had tricked me during the book or led me astray. I thought the characters were realistically drawn and the events plausible. I probably won't seek out others by her because I don't tend to like this kind of crime story. I read it because it won the Edgar, and I'm trying to broaden my horizons.

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