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Over Tumbled Graves    by Jess Walter order for
Over Tumbled Graves
by Jess Walter
Order:  USA  Can
Regan, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Over Tumbled Graves is a police procedural with a brooding, psychological atmosphere. Prostitutes are being murdered by what looks like a serial killer in Spokane. But the police don't know it yet. As the story opens, thirty-six-year-old Detective Caroline Mabry fumbles a routine drug bust in Riverfront Park, where the Spokane River 'irrigated the long, gray wound of civilization' and the falls at the center of the city cured her own 'jagged anxieties.' When she corners the drug dealer and his customer on a footbridge, the latter pushes the dealer into the river. Caroline attempts to rescue him, and his client gets away.

Married Sergeant Alan Dupree is protective of Mabry, who used to work under his command. There's a friendship between with enough bubbling underneath that it's put his marriage in jeopardy. The cynical Dupree is assigned the case when hookers' bodies start to be uncovered, each strangled, with forty dollars clutched in their hands. Caroline is assigned to interview prostitutes, with whom she's able to establish a good rapport, and also to pose undercover as one, in an attempt to flush out the killer. But, it seems that he is obsessed with her, as the same man (ex-con Lenny Ryan) who pushed the dealer off the bridge seeks Caroline out, to lead her to another body. After Dupree gets her assigned to the task force on the multiple murders, she's sent to New Orleans to interview celebrity profiler Curtis Blanton, who implies to her that 'A serial killer was not an aberration, but an amplification of male fantasy.'

Though public pressure for results and his own attitude prompt the department to take Dupree off the case, he's still serendipitously involved, as Caroline is directly on the task force. She worries about her own performance, and in particular about the justification for a past shooting, concerned that 'there wasn't as much distance as she'd like to believe' between cops and criminals. But her own concerns for a hooker she interviewed, Jacqueline, and Dupree's stubborn persistence, do finally bring a surprising truth to light, and Caroline is able to do for Alan what he once did to protect her. If you like your mysteries dark and moody, then you'll enjoy Over Tumbled Graves.

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