Picks and Pans Review: Skeletons

updated 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Eric Sauter

Sauter gets a lot right in this thriller, especially the premise. A Philadelphia thief, a control freak who is also a master of disguise and subterfuge, likes to get to know his marks before robbing them. He might never have been caught except that one day he goes around the bend and begins incorporating ghastly murders into his MO.

That makes a Philly detective who is tougher than the meat in a cheesesteak take a personal interest in busting him. The action scenes and unfolding hunt are gripping, and Sauter, author of Predator, conveys a good sense of place in the City of Brotherly Love. (One quibble: There is no Sunday edition of the Philadelphia Daily News in real life.)

Sauter, however, is like a master carpenter trying to build a deck when some of the lumber is warped. The problem is that neither his cop nor his criminal ever becomes interesting, despite all the detail lavished on their inner lives. That crucial failing makes reading Skeletons an ambivalent experience. You come to care about what's happening. You just don't give a fig about the people it's happening to. (Dutton, $18.95)

From Our Partners