by Nora Roberts

August 2001 Reissue
ISBN: 0-553-26574-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

On a steamy August day in Washington DC a game of frisbee leads to the discovery of a gruesome murder. The weapon? A priest's scarf, left neatly on the chest of the victim with her hands placed over it in repose. It was truly a Sacred Sin.

So begins one of the worst cases Detectives Ben Paris and Ed Johnson can remember. Ben's easygoing charm and apparent casual manner masks a mind that is as sharp as a fox and well matched with Ed's thorough efficiency. That is, until the next murder results in the introduction of Dr. Teresa Court into their lives. Ben doesn't adapt too well to the idea of a psychologist trying to find out how their murderer thinks. He just wants to catch him, and if it is necessary to shoot him, well that's OK too. Ed is quite amused to note the intensity of his partner's reaction to the lovely and intelligent Tess Court. She is one sharp lady with a hectic practice and an unalterable devotion to her goal of helping people better their lives. Ben harbors a long-term resentment toward psychologists, and can't quite understand why he finds himself pursuing Tess. But pursue her he does, in a light-hearted and charming way - unwilling to confess even to himself that this particular lady might become something special in his life.

Both Tess and Ben are intelligent, strong-willed people, and Nora Roberts makes it great fun to watch them slowly slip over the edge of attraction and into a fully-fledged affair. Neither of them forgets, however, that their work together is crucial - the killer is getting ready to strike again and this time it's going to be personal.

One of the nicest things about this book is that none of the police here are depicted as rotten, politically oriented, or any of the other nasty things that so often interfere with a good crime story. Ben and Ed get all the help they need from the department, and Tess is an important and pivotal point for both the romance and the murder mystery. The element of Catholicism around which the killer develops his methods, and the absorbing glimpse into the world of psychopathic psychiatry round out this novel and make it an enormously entertaining read. You may find yourself holding your breath near the end and cheering on Ben and Tess as they rush headlong to stop a killer and incidentally find their lives irrevocably changed along the way! (If you enjoy this story, try Nora Robert's Brazen Virtue and see what fate has in store for Detective Ed Johnson!)

Reviewed in August 2001 by Celia.

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