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City of Fire


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About the Author

Born and raised in southeastern Pennsylvania, Robert Ellis lived in Los Angeles for sixteen years and now spends his time between California and Connecticut along the central coast. He has written and produced over 1,000 television commercials for political campaigns and has previously published two novels. Robert is currently writing the next thriller in the Detective Lena Gamble series.


Through the literal and metaphorical fog of a forest fire that rages through much of Ellis's tense third thriller (after Access to Power and The Dead Room), LAPD detective Lena Gamble investigates a string of gruesome murders, the first of a pregnant woman, while trying to follow the convoluted thinking of "Romeo," as the serial killer has been dubbed. The search becomes more complicated and personal when the body of the best friend of Gamble's dead brother, David, is found, apparently another Romeo victim. Through Gamble's nicely framed reminiscences by her pool, we learn of David's unsolved death by gunshot, five years earlier. There's clearly some connection, but Gamble can't tie Romeo to David, a sensitive soul and a rock musician of some renown. The pieces of the case fall into place a little too neatly, and there may be a few too many words on L.A. driving, but the story is tight, the characters alive and the Rambo-like assault at the end refreshingly uncharacteristic of female protagonists. Author tour. (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Los Angeles's infamous Santa Ana winds, or "Devil Winds," provide fuel for the fire in Ellis's (The Dead Room) serial killer-cum-police procedural. LAPD Det. Lena Gamble, haunted by her musician brother's murder, figures out that Nikki Brant's horrific rape and murder are just one small piece of a madman's desire to seek revenge against all those who have made his life miserable. Opening with Brant's death, this potboiler dishes it out: pornographic web sites, the plight of orphan siblings, the Hollywood music industry, and drug abuse. Needless to say, a brush fire seems superfluous. But pressing on, Gamble and her partner work both forward and backward as they delve into musical and handwriting clues left on the victims' nightstands, gradually teasing out the slayer's identity. If that weren't enough, the unsolved murder of Gamble's brother becomes personally threatening when she realizes that one of her colleagues probably killed him. Totally plot driven, with plenty of stereotypical characters, this book is fast, gruesome, and twisted, like a scary Jodie Foster movie. Ellis makes it easy to be terrified. Recommended for popular collections. [See Mystery Prepub, LJ 2/1/07.]--Teresa L. Jacobsen, Solano Coll. Lib., Fairfield, CA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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