i'm skeptical that patricia cornwell actually wrote this book. i think Putnam hired a third-rate ghost writer OR published a manuscript she wrote when she was 6. okay, so i didn't read the dust jacket to learn this book introduces a new cast of characters in charlotte, VA so it was a bit of a shock to meet some reporter dude named Andy Brazil, who's playing side-kick to deputy chief Virginia West. i don't mind my train derailed by a new characters, but the writing in this book is simply awful. granted, i read only 50 pages, so perhaps something magical happened on page 60, but i found the plot a flimsy backdrop for an inevitable sexual tangle between andy and virginia, who're both preternaturally attractive, according to their descriptions. i'm no prude or PC advocate, but i was disturbed by peeks of thinly-veiled homophobia -- and indeed the whole tone of the book (or the first 50 pages) seemed mean and rough, with little accompanying graces. again, thank god for the library, cos this book SUCKED and i experienced no qualms of regret giving up on it.