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Cover image for Clean cut
Clean cut

Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, ©2003.
Physical Description:
295 pages ; 24 cm
Series title(s):
Number in series:
When a young prostitute is brutally murdered in St. Paul, homicide detective Paris Murphy, aided by detective Gabriel Nash, tracks down a serial killer by using herself as a snare.


Call Number

On Order



He's upper-class with white-blond hair, and so GQ handsome that Finch, desperate for business one rainy evening on the streets of St. Paul, falls gratefully into his car. When he turns nasty and she begins to struggle, it's over fast. Homicide Detective Paris Murphy is called to the brutal murder scene. Paris knows Finch's beat and knows her story, and sad for the worn-out twenty-three-year-old hooker who was a beauty queen at fifteen, is determined to find her murderer. Paris likes to work alone, but this high-profile case requires a partner. She chooses Gabriel Nash, a longtime detective who talked her into police work. Gabe tries hard to protect her, as Paris, uncovering her suspect's connection to other unsolved crimes, throws herself headlong into the path of a psychopath who wants to have her and then kill her.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sex, violence, Catholic guilt and sloppy police work mark Monsour's debut thriller, which features a horny female homicide detective in pursuit of a serial killer in St. Paul, Minn. Monsour runs hot and cold with this cop caper; some scenes are chilling, others corny. There is no whodunit here; Monsour identifies the killer early on, leaving only revelations of sick motives ahead. Paris Murphy is the detective, estranged from but still energetically sleeping with her husband and having a torrid affair with the medical examiner as well. Paris and her partner, Gabriel Nash, a fat, 50ish cop who eats liverwurst and Miracle Whip sandwiches, deduce the killer's identity fairly quickly, but they never quite seem to get their act together to bring him in for questioning. Despite having enough evidence to make a district attorney drool, the cops dither and scratch their heads while the killer, who is supposedly ingenious, makes stupid mistakes. They let the killer escape so many times he tires of the pursuit and decides to become the pursuer. Paris and the murderer enjoy taunting each other; it turns out that they're both Catholics who worry about getting to heaven given their respective sins. The novel has little mystery, but there is much graphic, racy action. Monsour seems to be saying that crooks are as dumb as cops. It's an interesting point of view, but in this case it doesn't make for an intellectually engaging psychological drama. Agent, Esther Newberg. (Feb. 3) Forecast: Blurbs from John Sandford, Daniel Silva, Paul Lindsay and Jeffery Deaver, among others, will give this novel a strong headstart. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Derivative debut thriller about a plastic surgeon with a hair fetish, by a longtime St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter. Handsome is as handsome does, and "gorgeous" Dr. A. Romann Michaels does baaad. He's one sick dude, probably because he had one sick mommy, who tried unsuccessfully to take him to bed hours before she killed herself. He was in junior high then, and ever since he's had difficulty refraining from homicide where women are concerned. Well, not just any woman: there has to be hair, beautiful hair, like mommy's, which he cuts off post-mortem, carefully washes, dries, bags, then adds to his stash in a Victorian hatbox reserved just for that purpose. When he slaughters an unfortunate prostitute named Finch, though, he comes to the attention of Sergeant Paris Murphy of the St. Paul (Minnesota) PD. Murphy--tough, smart, gorgeous in her own right, with a "small waist and narrow hips but larger than average breasts"--is precisely Michaels's cup of tea: "Her hair hung like a velvet curtain around her swanlike neck." So you know that it's going to get personal between them. Early on, Murphy, famous for her intuition, convinces herself that Michaels is the sadistic perp who did Finch in. Making the case, however, is another matter, particularly since the wayward doctor is not only highly respected professionally but tightly connected politically. No other recourse, Murphy decides--as many of crime fiction's female cops have done before her--but to turn herself into bait. That is, use her velvet curtain to trigger his lurking savagery. It works, of course, and though chilled by those "heartless, soulless orbs," Murphy (symbolically at least) scalps her man. Not much polish, and the feisty heroine isn't much more than an amalgam of genre divas, but the vigorous narrative drive does offer hope for Monsour's next. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Monsour's debut novel stars a female cop heroine who breaks the mold of recent women cop sleuths, almost always predictably tough on the job but vulnerable on the inside. Paris Murphy, a homicide detective with the St. Paul Police Department, has a credibly complicated life (she is separated but still involved with her ex-husband) and a credibly complicated attitude to her work--she is human enough to be shaken by what crime scenes show but able to gut out the work, mainly alone. Monsour gives Murphy one of the most evocative homes a detective can have, a houseboat on the Mississippi. The narrative shuttles between the thoughts and deeds of a serial killer and the efforts of Monsour and her male sidekick to catch him. A married doctor with kids, the killer is expert at maintaining his facade of a normal life and rationalizing his guilt: he gives his victims names like "Miss Accident," "Miss Incident," and "Miss Poor Outcome." As Paris tracks him down, she (somewhat predictably) becomes his next target, but the way Monsour paces this cat-and-mouse game is truly chilling. Monsour's journalistic background (she is a longtime reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press) shows in her realistic depictions of cops, the press, and prostitutes. She also takes full advantage of the quick changes, from high-end to down-and-out, within the Twin Cities. Stunning. --Connie Fletcher

Library Journal Review

Monsour's background as a journalist in the Twin Cities adds some realism to her debut novel, but the downside is that her writing too often reads like newspaper reporting: the storytelling is straightforward and rarely delves into the characters or plot, resulting in a marked lack of complexity or suspense. When Paris Murphy, a homicide detective in St. Paul, is called out to lead an investigation into the murder of a prostitute, she is saddened to find that the victim is someone she'd known in her days as a vice cop. She immediately realizes that this may be more than a routine investigation and is soon on the trail of a serial killer who preys on women with long hair. The blow-by-blow style makes it difficult for the author to create the level of tension necessary in a psychological thriller. Once the elements of the story are set up, each plot point arrives with predictable regularity-and the character development is equally predictable. An optional purchase.-Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.