From Publishers Weekly
The criminal mind, racial bias, journalistic ego and the flawed fabric of the American criminal justice system are potent raw materials for psychological suspense master Katzenbach ( The Travelers ) in this riveting, provocative story. Matthew Cowart is lonely since his divorce and bored with writing editorials for the Miami newspaper where he was once an ace crime reporter. Then he receives a letter from a black inmate of Florida's death row, Robert Earl Ferguson, who claims he is innocent of the crime for which he has been convicted, the raping and slashing of a young white girl. On Ferguson's promise to reveal the identity of the real killer, Cowart spearheads a crusade that frees Ferguson and names another inmate, Blair Sullivan, as the murderer. Cowart wins a Pulitzer for his efforts, but his celebration is short-lived. Sullivan gives the reporter a pre-execution confession, and Cowart discovers that he has been duped. Black homicide detective Tanny Brown convinces Cowart to team up against the killer who has outmaneuvered them both. The horror of psychopathic murder and the limitations of the legal system become clear as the pair jousts with the killer on his own turf. Despite some extraneous subplots, the story generally proceeds at a breakneck pace, enhanced by ear-perfect dialogue and complex characterization. Film rights to Warner; major ad/promo.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA-- Putting this book down will be a difficult task for any lover of crime tales and mysteries. From the first chapter, the challenge to discover the truth--and what to do with it--is clear and compelling. Miami newspaperman Matthew Cowart is established, successful, and no longer hitting the streets as a regular reporter. When he receives a letter from a death row inmate declaring his innocence and begging Cowart to investigate the case, his reporter instincts resurface and spur him on a course of action that creates the excitement in this well-crafted novel. Cowart discovers unsettling information about which he writes so compellingly that Robert Earl Ferguson is set free. Two detectives, whose work contributed to Ferguson's original conviction, express genuine outrage and frustration that a dangerous, guilty man has been turned loose on an unsuspecting public. Cowart eventually discovers, to his horror, that they were right all along: Ferguson is indeed a serial killer. Stalking the stalker and meting out a primitive justice beyond the reach of lawyers and courtrooms is the focus of the dynamic second half of the book. YAs who have not yet discovered Katzenbach's skill with a yarn will undoubtedly want to seek out his earlier three titles after reading this one.
- Carolyn E. Gecan, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.