Heart of a Killer: A Thriller by David Rosenfelt (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 304 pages)
Author David Rosenfelt has added another winner to his long lists of credits with his latest effort, Heart of a Killer. This reviewer has written about two of his Andy Carpenter mystery novels. This time out, there is a different and unlikely hero.
The main character, Jamie Wagner, is a Harvard Law School graduate working as an associate at a corporate firm whose office is located in New Jersey. Wagner, something of a contrarian, chooses to live in Manhattan on the west side where the atmosphere is urban and enjoyable. Pro bono cases are often assigned to attorneys who are working their way toward a partnership in the firm. This is precisely the position Wagner is in when the story opens; however, he sees little hope for attaining partner status.
The pro bono case Wagner is working centers around a woman who pled guilty to the murder of her nasty, evil husband six years prior to the time of the story. Sheryl has been sitting in a New Jersey prison quietly doing time as a model prisoner while her mother takes care of granddaughter Karen. Karen has a failing heart and her health has taken a turn for the worse. She needs a transplant or she will die. Yes, Sheryl has herself tested and is found to be an ideal match. The confusion around whether Sheryl has the right to donate her heart provides ample motivation for Wagner to bring his Harvard education and well-honed brief writing skills into the picture.
The mystery revolves around some very seedy and brilliant characters that lack a conscience, hence, the proliferation of deaths by nefarious means. Rosenfelt is a master of understatement and dry wit. He aptly displays both in Heart of a Killer. Rather than a straightforward mystery, this one is an in-depth examination of human nature and personal values.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Heart of a Killer was released on February 14, 2012. Click on this link to read the opening pages: http://www.davidrosenfelt.com/heart-of-a-killer-first-chapter/