by Catherine Coulter

April 1998
ISBN: 0-515-12249-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Jove Books
Mass Market Paperback

Appropriately titled, The Maze has more twists and turns than one can imagine. For fun, I imagine, Catherine Coulter throws in odd hints here and there deliberately meant to throw off the reader and prolong the suspense of what should have been an "easy" murder mystery plot.

Lacey Sherlock has more than her name going for her - she's spent seven years obsessed with finding the serial killer who murdered her older sister, Belinda. She even went so far as to change her major from music to forensic science in college and proceeded to earn a master's in criminal psychology... all to catch one killer.

Now her hard work has paid off. Although she couldn't stomach being a profiler as she originally planned and is resigned to catching bank robbers, she is assigned to something better - the Criminal Apprehension Unit headed by Dillon Savich. CAU assists the profilers by gathering data on serial killers and inputting them in a super duper computer program created by Dillon. In no time, Lacey (or Sherlock, as Dillon likes to call her) has access to the myriad of databases that store up information on serial killers, including her sister's murderer. Dillon, no dummy himself, catches on fairly to her illegal use of his password and reluctantly lets her in on the search for the "String Killer", as the media dubbed him, despite her personal involvement.

The murder mystery is definitely in the forefront while the romance between Lacey and Dillon slowly creeps up in between. Although they are thrown together at work, it is often Dillon who forces his attentions on her by "forcing" her to work out with him, while proceeding to throw her across the gym floor in several karate moves until she cries "uncle". Is that when she finally realizes her attraction to Dillon? Or is it because he always knows when and how to loosen her up when confronting the killer, or her absurd family, becomes too much? Ms. Coulter is more than subtle - in fact, we pick up hints of attraction from the very first time Dillon and Lacey met and it just steamrolled from then on.

The murder mystery, I hate to admit, is a bit silly. Sure, there are killers that are probably like the ones described in the book, but the link between Lacey and the killer is tenous despite the murder of her sister and makes the ending a bit anti-climactic. However, Ms. Coulter adds a bit of shocking details about Lacey's dysfunctional family to make you wonder what is it about the killer that made him select Lacey's sister as a target. It all gets shady when everyone is introduced bit by bit and Ms. Coulter successfully throws you off the scent because of it. All that and Lacey's vague disturbing dreams (along with a very jealous colleague!) make for a fairly shocking revelation.

The characters are appealing and the romance is subtle and out of the ordinary... and it more than makes up for the lackluster mystery.

Reviewed in February 2002 by Veronica.

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