Night Kills by Ed Gorman (1990)
There are few writers who can entertain as well as Ed Gorman and this early thriller testifies to that.
Frank Brolan is a partner in a small Minneapolis advertising agency that is beginning to reach the big-time. His partner, Stu Foster, has a talent for landing important clients while Brolan has a gift for the creative side of the business. The two had been celebrating the signing of an important new client with their staff and afterwards made their way Brolan's house for something to eat, only to find the viciously-hacked body of an attractive woman stuffed into Brolin's freezer. Brolin recognizes the woman as someone with whom he had a loud public argument with the night before. Because Brolan has a quick temper and had domestic abuse charges filed against him previously, he is afraid to go to the police.
The dead woman is a hooker named Emma. Her neighbor and friend, Greg Wagner, is a short, wheelcar-bound man with spina bifida. Soon, Wagner and Brolan join forces to try to make sense of the murder. Meanwhile, a teenage hooker named Denise has been picked by a bearded man who drives her to a remote spot and tries to strangle her. Denise is able to get away but not before lifting the man's wallet, a wallet identifying the attacker as Frank Brolan. Soon, another hooker is found dead next to one of Brolan's cuff links.
While Brolan, Wagner, and Denise try to understand what is going on, the reader is treated to a knuckle-biting ride. Gorman carves his characters with scalpel-like precision, their all too human foibles laid bare. Gorman has always been the poet of the underdog, treating them with love and understanding while sometimes subjecting them to horrific violence. And the author is not above sly digs at the advertising community, a group he knows all to well.
A darn good book, with only one plot hole that I could find and that (if you close your eyes hard enough and really, truly believe in pixies) could be explained by one character's nature.