“People see too many movies. They expect the bad guy to be some kind of evil genius. You and I, though, we know better. Most of the bad guys we run across have all the brains of wallpaper paste. The blinder the violence, the more likely it’s some kind of stimulus-response event that, given the opportunity, the perp would refer to down the line as just one of those things. You take some of the most prolific killers of the last twenty years, and toss them in a room, and it would look like just a bunch of dumb losers in a room.”
And the saga of Pat Gallegher, New Orleans jazz cornetist and avocational detective, continues with Juicy Watusi, in which author Richard Helms, himself a forensic psychologist, tackles a subject he knows pretty well – serial killers.
Pat’s bar-owner boss gets a new girlfriend – a stripper. Pat withholds judgment and wishes them well. But it turns out even worse than you’d expect – the girlfriend is found murdered in an alley behind the club where she works. And she’s not the only one. Somebody’s carving up strippers all over the city.
The local police request that the FBI send in a profiler to help them, but none is available just now. However, a noted profiler happens to live right there in New Orleans, teaching at Tulane. The trouble is, he’s burned out – he refuses to do that work anymore.
The police offer a compromise – the profiler can work with them incognito, and another local man with profiling experience can operate as a “beard” – pretending to be the profiler in front of the news cameras.
That other profiler is Pat Gallegher. He too quit the job, years back, when it started messing with his head. He doesn’t like the deal, but it seems a small price to pay for stopping this guy.
It gets tougher, though, when Pat’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the killer. Now he’s on a deadline, and faced by an impossible moral choice.
Juicy Watusi is another cool hard-boiled from a solid writer who knows his stuff. I figured out the big plot twist ahead of time, but I enjoyed it anyway, and recommend it, with the usual cautions.