After weeks working at a desk job as punishment for insubordination, Detective Ross Kincaid is assigned the task of stopping a serial killer who is raping and murdering teen runaways. Kincaid is in a race against time in preventing the death of yet another teen. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Outreach Home counselor Jerry Patrick Faulkner tries to help an orphan turn his life around, but comes to fear the lad may be involved with the deaths. Faulkner’s co-worker, a psychiatrist at Outreach, holds dark secrets of his own, and thinks he has found a way to discredit Faulkner so he can win back his former girlfriend, who now plans to marry Faulkner.
Unlike many who-dun-its, the reader of The Archangel Legacy knows early on who is behind the murders and why, as their sinister actions are revealed in side plots. Kincaid and his partner follow clues often dropped in the size of whole loaves rather than crumbs as the story progresses.
Webb does a credible job with many characters’ physical attributes. The carriage cleaners who enter a cafÃ©, for instance, are “middle-aged men with a good investment in their beer bellies, which filled the available space inside their greasy coveralls . . .” The dialogue can be choppy and unnatural, however, as in: “Brilliant, well done, Ruth. Time is of the essence; we should be on our way.” In addition, the poor murdered girls get little empathy; they are simply cardboard pawns placed to move the story along.
In short, with its well-drawn characters, the novel shows promise. But its only suspense is in wondering when Kincaid finally will reach his Columbo-like “aha” moment. That makes for a lukewarm murder mystery with limited appeal to those who love this genre.