By Donnie Ray Whetstone
StoneCart Books, 295 pages, $15.00

Physical trainers can sometimes be actually psychotic rather than just seeming so to their clients. In Fit to Kill, Tara Tanner must deal with La Flore’s first serial killer, a man who takes out his frustrations by killing proxies, men and women that share traits that remind him of the women he is having problems training. In order to defeat the killer, Tara needs to accept part of her herself that links her to a past she would like to forget.

For a first effort, this is an excellent book. Tara is an incredible character; she is normally genteel and easy to get along with, even allowing for a mouth that gets her in constant hot water, most noticeably in her dealings with Special Agent Mack, who earns her special ire by taking over her case and completely botching it. Most of the characters are developed well; a lazier writer would limit the characters to their one-dimensional origins, but these have some solidity. The exception is Special Agent Mack, but he works well with just the one dimension he has.

Strangely, the biggest problem is that it seems like it was sponsored by Cinemax; there is lots of sex and even an exotic dance number, which is well pulled-off. It even applies to the demure Tara; only by accepting her sexual side can she defeat her personal demons and therefore the killer. Sex, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but the last scene just comes off as added on, especially when it was such a great procedural up to that point. I really want to see more of what Whetstone can do, just with more focus on the plot and less on the titillation. Nonetheless, this is a good pot boiler for a rainy afternoon.

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