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My selection this week is TOP TEN, first published in October,1999. It’s the story of a serial killer known only as Michaelangelo for his propensity to make “artistic” statements with his victims, sending blow-by-blows of his work to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is installed as number ten on the FBI’s most wanted list.
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FBI agent Ariel Grace, twenty-nine, is suddenly transferred to Task Force Ten in the middle of her pursuit of number five on the list, Mills Devane. She was getting to close, you see, and Devane is really an undercover agent working to nab drug traffickers. She’s not happy.

Her new project is Michaelangelo.

Let’s see. Young female FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer. Why does that sound familiar? Oh yea! But it doesn’t spoil the fun. Not for me anyway.

Michaelangelo has a very large ego. He’s incensed at being placed at number ten. There’s only one thing to do. Using his considerable skills, he starts to work his way up the list, intent on eliminating the competition until he has to be number one.

Let’s see. A serial killer killing other killers. Something’s familiar here! Oh Yea! However, this one precedes Darkly Dreaming Dexter by four years.

I liked this one. But reviews seemed to have been mixed. In reading over customers’ reviews at Amazon, they run the gamut of their five star system, though most were either wildly for it or vehemently against it(one reader wanted to give it a minus onw star). That’s the way it ought to be I suppose. I’ve never seen any piece of prose that everyone liked(or hated for that matter).

If you like serial killer tales and haven’t read this one, give it a try. Warning: it is very violent and bloody.

update: A comment by James Reasoner sparked a little more research(probably should have done it before) and I discovered that Top Ten was his last novel published, though a new one is forthcoming. He was screenwriter for Nicholas Cage’s recent film, Knowing, and an earlier novel, Mercury Rising, was made into a film starring Bruce Willis.

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