Like many Washington D.C. law enforcement professionals, medical examiner Jessica Coran has had plenty of run-ins with Judge Maureen DeCampe, who's a little too liberal for her liking. But when DeCampe is kidnapped and tortured in a scenario so horrible that a psychic colleague of Jessica's falls ill with a mysterious syndrome after she attempts to "sense" the victim's whereabouts, Coran races the clock to find and free DeCampe before her friend can sever the psychic connection with the judge's kidnapper. It doesn't take long for the FBI to finger the perp--the father of a criminal DeCampe sentenced to death--but by the time they track him to the abandoned farm where he's bound the judge to the decaying body of his recently executed son, it may be too late for Jessica to save her friend. Fans of Robert W. Walker's nine previous thrillers featuring the redoubtable Ms. Coran will be delighted to meet her again; despite his sometimes stiff and ponderous style, Walker succeeds at telling a good story with plenty of the gory details that have made forensic suspense an increasingly popular genre. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
Jessica Coran, the ace, if dry, medical examiner and detective heroine of Walker's long-running series, has a plum job working for the FBI. In composing her latest adventure, Walker takes his cue from the "unnatural" urges specified in his title and invents a demented father, Isaiah Purdy, who is determined to exact vengeance for the execution of his son, Jimmy, a killer sentenced to death by D.C. judge Maureen DeCampe. Isaiah abducts DeCampe, whisks her off to a newly rented barn by a chemicals factory and subjects her to a slow, gruesome death by gangrene, strapped to his dead son. Though no one much likes DeCampe, who is despised by Coran as a "closet libertarian," Coran sets out to save her. Coran's best friend, Kim Desinor, FBI agent and psychic, inexplicably is afflicted with full-scale life-threatening empathic stigmata, a sure sign that DeCampe is in trouble and perhaps a substitute for real sympathy for the judge's plight. While Coran herself is a sturdy central character who just about keeps the FBI circus on focus, the story flares up only via peripheral, crackpot characters: the Bible-thumping Isaiah Purdy; a homeless ex-teacher and dog lover, Marsden; and Nancy Willis, heroic busybody neighbor. Walker inserts plot devices and clues in a heavy-handed manner, deflating subtlety and suspense, and the novel's climax is perfunctory. Overall, this is a skilled but essentially formulaic suspense tale, high in melodrama.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.