Go to Homepage   Beverly Barton: The Fifth Victim

 

Crescent Blues Book ViewsZebra (Paperback), ISBN 0-8217-7215-5

Oh dear.

A small Tennessee town: Cherokee Pointe. A killer starts sacrificially murdering young women. Maverick FBI agent Dallas Sloan (rippling thews, unruly shock of blond hair, never found a woman who could tame him; get the idea?) recognizes the m.o. and arrives seeking vengeance for the killing of his niece by the same murderer the previous year in a different state. He's the only person in the FBI who noticed there's a killer on the loose who sacrificially murders four women and then does the same to a fifth but with the extra feature that he rips her heart out for later cannibalistic consumption.

Book: beverly barton, the fifth victim
Here in Cherokee Pointe, though, the local law forces have what would seem to be a considerable advantage were it not that the local Chief of Police is a sinecured halfwit. Local psychic Genny Madoc (petite, pert breasts, never found the man worth letting inside her pants; get the idea again?) can intermittently tap into the killer's mind and witness his vile deeds. Now, if only she could get a street address…

Although Dallas thinks "psychics" are all phonies or crazies, from the moment they first clap eyes on each other the electricity sparks between him and Genny with such intensity Van de Graaff would have trashed his own generator in disgust. It's obvious that, unless one or the other actually bursts into flames first, they're going to have a monumental sex scene about three-quarters of the way through the book, and golly gosh, so they do.

Alas, just about everything else proves equally predictable except quite how much direr, at any particular point, the book can get from here on.

Book: beverly barton, every move she makes 
The Fifth Victim is by intention a serial-killer chiller, a mystery and a semi-erotic romance novel -- all three. To take these aspects in turn: The serial-killer aspect is so hokey (oh, lumme: satanist cults) it'd have seemed a trifle passé in, say, 1953. The mystery's flaccid: the murderer's the guy you initially thought, then thought might be the red herring because he's so bloody obvious.

And the erotica? Oh, geez. The Genny/Dallas megaromp is surprisingly OK, but elsewhere the liberal sexual references, plus the fairly frequent lesser sex scenes, are so clumsy and dumb that it's hard to know whether to burst out laughing or into tears. And the main characters have astonishingly high Allure Quotients. Perhaps people have stronger sex urges in Tennessee: not one but several of the characters possess such a powerful aura of sexuality that they leave members of the opposite gender in a state of high arousal merely by walking by or speaking on the phone. Or maybe, at least for the men, it's a matter of penis transplants: no matter the age of the man, his penis is in this book that of a 15-year-old, leaping into ready attention at the merest flash of a thigh.

If pulp fiction always left you begging for less, The Fifth Victim is for you.

Oh dear.

John Grant

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