The Third Deadly Sin is part police procedural, part psychological novel dredging up memories of the “Son of Sam” killings in New York City in the summer of 1976.
Two men have already been murdered when Abner Boone has a chat with retired cop Edward X. Delaney at the suggestion of the acting Deputy Commissioner.
Boone says someone has killed two men at midtown hotels in a month, slitting their throats and mutilating their genitals, before disappearing without a trace.
Delaney agrees to act as an unofficial sounding board for investigators.
Delaney’s wife is active in the feminist movement. Their discussions about women’s roles makes him wonder if the killer could possibly be a woman. His wife unequivocally says that’s impossible.
Statistics show almost no random killers are female.
Delaney still wonders, especially when a third killing shows the time period between murders corresponds to a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Novelist Lawrence Sanders divides his attention between the mousy, back office clerical worker with a sharp Swiss Army Knife and Delaney.
Sanders sets each discussion of the investigation one murder behind what readers know has happened. That may show how slow police work is, but it’s confusing to readers.
Despite that flaw, The Third Deadly Sin is fascinating reading.
The Third Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders
G. P. Putnam. © 1981. 444 p.
1981 bestseller #8. My grade B+
© 2019 Linda G. Aragoni