Bad Girl
Michele Jaffe
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Bad Girl

Michele Jaffe
464 pages
July 2003
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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No sooner has she moved to Las Vegas to head the forensics lab there than Chicago "Windy" Thomas reveals the depths of her at-times almost intuitive capabilities by finding the true culprit in a high-profile murder case which someone else had already confessed to. With such a stellar beginning, Windy at once gains both the awe and dislike of her new colleagues. Not so Ash Laughton, the enigmatic head of the Violent Crimes Task Force, who is attracted to her but keeps quiet about his growing feelings.

Meanwhile, a serial killer soon goes on a spree, methodically beheading almost entire families but leaving few to no clues. While trying to avoid repeating mistakes from her past, Windy struggles not to get too involved in this interesting case as sheis generally prone to, all the while trying to pay equal importance to her active young daughter, demanding new fiancť and their lives together. Can Windy and Ash, together with their respective teams, solve this complex case before Windy herself ends up the next victim?

A tense narrative combined with an acutely insightful look into the killerís as well as the criminalistís psyche makes Bad Girl a compelling book worth reading over and over again. The superb unrelenting suspense is complimented perfectly by some action, office politics, multiple mysteries and plenty of gory but essential details. The book naturally feels like an extended version of an episode from the TV series CSI, only with more fieldwork than lab work. The plot is further characterized by the in-depth look Jaffe provides into the lives of the major players, thus imparting a human touch to this otherwise grim and violent police procedural. The central character of Windy, a mix of private insecurities and fears together with unflinching professionalism and utter competence, makes for fascinating reading, as do the inner workings of the highly demented but skillfully elusive killer. Despite revealing the killerís identity a while before the ending, - the only flaw in an otherwise stellar mystery - Jaffe manages to surprise the jittery readers till the end.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Rashmi Srinivas, 2004

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