Signature Kill
A novel by David Levien
Book review by Jules Brenner
Doubleday, released 3/24/15, 288 pp., $24.95
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The altogether appropriate title refers to the arrangement in death of bodies that a prodigious killer is leaving all around Indianapolis in such a way as to declare his monstrosity and what he thinks as his artistry to the crime scene experts, detectives and, perhaps, the press. But, it's not what drives him. What makes him seek pretty young girls as "projects" for his "art" is his malignant psychopathology.

Before former cop Frank Behr catches wind of this creep, he spots a billboard anouncing a reward for $100,000 to the person who finds this single mom's missing daughter. Just about broke, this is the best offer he's had in a while and contacts the mother and takes the case.

It's only later that he makes a connection between her girl and the psychopath. For some reason, he makes the mission one to save the girl, odds being bad for that sort of outcome.

Not altogether unusual in serial killer books, Levien keeps us in the mind of the killer with alternating chapters, giving us a clear idea what Behr is up against and why it's so difficult to cut a trail. Levien proves the sagacity of the approach with a more than convincing analysis of the mad man

Fortunately for our sleuth, he hasn't cut all ties to the police force of which he was a member and gets some assistance from police detective Gary Breslau who is looking into a dismemberment case of another unidentified woman. The arrangement proves of benefit to both sides.

We come to appreciate the humanity and generosity of the strapped PI, and the building of suspense is just what we wanted when we tuned into this grim and gruesome ride into homicidal insanity.

Though I thought the sheer number of victims a bit over the top, I'm in for more of Frank Behr and his creator.

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