Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, November 6, 2015


In For the Kill by John Lutz (2007)

It's been at least a decade since I read anything by John Lutz, although I used to read his stuff regularly.  I loved his stories aboout private eye Alo Nudger and I thought  his books about Fred Carver were even better.  Once Lutz ended both of those series he began publishing bigger and thicker books and I put off reading them because something brighter and shinier always came along.  Big mistake.

Those bigger and thicker books made Lutz a paperback bestseller.  Ten of them are about former NYPD homicide detective Frank Quinn.  In For the Kill is the second in the series.

While on the force, Quinn and his teammates Pearl and Fedderman developed a reputation for catching serial killers.  Now the team has left the force:  Quinn living quietly in his modest New York apartment, Pearl -- Quinn's former lover -- has moved across town and is working as a bank guard, and Fedderman has retired to Florida.  When a particularly nasty serial killer starts killing single women and dismembering them, Quinn's former supervisor asks him to reassemble the team.  Fedderman, bored and realizing he detests golf, agrees immediateely.  It takes the third victim being killed in Pearl's old apartment to bring her on board.  They soon realize the killer is taunting them -- the initial's of the victem's last name spell out Q-U-I-N-N.

To complicate things, Quinn's teenaged daughter runs away from her mother and stepfather and travels cross country to live with Quinn.   Quinn, still in love with Pearl, discovers she's having an affair with a suspect in the case.  And we learn in flashbacks that the killer -- dubbed The Butcher by the press -- had been a nine-year-old in the Florida swamps where his mother killed men for their Social Security checks, dismembered the bodies, and had the killer help her toss the parts to hungry alligators.

The few plot holes (and there are a couple) are glossed over by the break-neck pace of the writing and the finely honed characters.

A worthy thriller and an indication that I have to catch up on reading John Lutz.


  1. Haven't read any of this guy's books. For serial killer readers (Barbara is one) this might be a good choice.

    I wonder when it became common for "the press" to give killers their nickname?

  2. Didn't it start in Whitechapel with Jack the Ripper?

    1. Off the top of my head (and not checkng to see if I'm right, Matthew), I believe Jack the Ripper gave himself that name in a letter to Scotland Yard.

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