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Lanyon offers up a gripping mystery with some pleasantly colorful secondary characters and a spine-tingling climax. Elliot is a smart, capable hero, and the suspense is entirely on-point.

Regina Small for Romantic Times
Elliot Mills comes face-to-face with evil in this follow-up to Fair Game and Fair Chance from bestselling author Josh Lanyon
One final game of cat and mouse…
Ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot’s hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn’t acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again–from a madman determined to finish his partner’s gruesome mission.

“If, for the sake of argument, there is an accomplice,” Elliot said, “he might not have the initiative, strength or know-how to continue without Corian. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t eventually get up to speed.”

“Again, respectfully,” Yamiguchi began, “You’re not BAU. Your background was civil rights violations and domestic terrorism.”

The Behavioral Analysis Unit was the real-life inspiration for all those crime shows featuring intrepid profilers who flew around the country at the drop of a hat to join in on serial killer cases. In real life it didn’t work like that. Members of the BAU rarely left Quantico, with the exception of a few legendary figures like Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.

“I didn’t know that. Is that true?” Marquessi asked, concerned once more.

“Yes,” Tucker said. “That is true.”

It was true, but Tucker knew that Elliot had been cross-trained to handle violent crime. The Bureau continued to be fanatical about cross-training when it came to the basics, and violent crime was always going to be one of the basics.

Besides, it wasn’t like the fight over civil rights couldn’t get dangerous and deadly. Elliot absently rubbed his knee.

“Yeah, but he’s right,” Pine interrupted. It clearly pained him. “Mills is right. Even I know that much about serial killers. They evolve over time. If there’s an accomplice, he might have been a—an apprentice. An acol-whateveryoucallit. He might be looking to hook up with a new partner.”

“Or he might have closed up shop never to be heard from again,” Tucker said. “If this unsub ever existed, there’s a good chance he’s left the vicinity. Personally, I don’t buy the story of a secret accomplice. I think Kelli called it right. Corian’s intent is to engage with Professor Mills. And I agree with Mills that Corian could be hoping to use this gambit as a bargaining chip in getting the death penalty taken off the table.”

“No way in hell is that going to happen,” Marquessi said.

Tucker said, “The question is how does this affect our court case? Where do we go from here?”

“First, I think there’s a legitimate question regarding Professor Mills’s continued involvement,” Yamiguchi said. “Especially after the threat made against him today.”

“Agreed,” Tucker said.

Did they rehearse or were they just naturally simpatico? The two-teaming was not a surprise, but still irritating given how much airtime this particular topic had already received between Elliot and Tucker. He gave Tucker a steady look, which Tucker ignored.

“It’s too late to pull Mills,” Pine said. “That’s my opinion. If there’s any chance at all that Corian is telling the truth, we need to hear what he has to say.”

“Professor Mills is two years out of the field. He’s not an analyst and he doesn’t have a background in criminal psychology. We’re setting him an impossible task by asking him to interpret Corian’s behavior. We risk derailing our court case by test-driving Corian’s psychotic attachment to a civilian consultant.”

Once again Tucker’s blue gaze met Elliot. Not in challenge. No. That look was all steel resolve, and Elliot understood where Tucker was going with this. He hadn’t been able to dissuade SAC Montgomery from insisting Elliot be part of the task force, but if he could get consensus from the rest of the task force that Elliot’s involvement was jeopardizing the case, even a micromanager like Montgomery would back down.

Elliot said, “Well, you keep trotting out the BAU. According to Unit Chief Sam Kennedy, if the objective is to get Corian to talk, you give him someone he can talk to. And right now, that’s me. Correct?”

Tucker didn’t answer. They both knew it was correct. They both knew calling on the BAU had been Tucker’s Hail Mary pass to try to come up with legitimate and impersonal grounds for keeping Elliot out of the case.

Pine said, “Corian wants Mills. Mills is the only person he’s talked to, besides his lawyer, since the night of his arrest. We need that channel of communication open. Especially if there’s another player out there.”

“We can use that,” Marquessi said. “We can use Professor Mills as leverage. If Corian wants access to him—and that seems to be the consensus—he has to play ball. Otherwise, no contact with Mills.”

Elliot could already predict the problems with that scenario, but before he could respond, Chief Woll said, “I think this is Mills’s call. He knows Corian as—better than anyone else in this room. And he’s the one who has to go in there and get him to talk.” His green eyes met Elliot’s. It was a funny look. Almost commiserating.

Deputy Sheriff…whatever the hell his name was—Damon? Dannon? Something like that—said, “I think our first priority is getting all the information we can out of Corian before his lawyer shuts him up again. Which is exactly what’s liable to happen the minute he gets wind of this.”

“That’s for damn sure,” Pine said. “I can’t believe we slipped Mills in this time.”

Yamiguchi looked at Tucker. Tucker looked at Marquessi.

Marquessi shrugged. “I bow to the collective expertise here. If Professor Mills is willing to go back into the lion’s den, I’m not going to object.”

Tucker turned his blue gaze on Elliot. “Up to you.”

“I’m in,” Elliot said.