Cover image for Unnatural instinct
Unnatural instinct
Walker, Robert W. (Robert Wayne), 1948-
Publication Information:
New York : Berkley Books, 2002.
Physical Description:
309 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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FBI Medical Examiner Dr. Jessica Coran's greatest adversary, Judge Maureen DeCampe, has been kidnapped. But the abductor doesn't want ransom. What he wants from both his captive, and whomever comes looking for her, is more terrifying -- and unnatural -- than anyone imagines.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In Walker's eighth Jessica Coran mystery, Washington, D.C., appellate court judge Maureen DeCampe is abducted by Isaiah Purdy, the father of a man she sentenced to death in Texas. FBI medical examiner Coran races against time to save the judge, who is being slowly tortured to death by being lashed to the corpse of Purdy's just executed son. Wordy explanations and unnecessary subplot information (clearly setting up the next book) slow the pace of what could have been an electric thriller, although the momentum does pick up toward the end of the book as the FBI gets closer to the kidnapper and finally attempts to rescue DeCampe. Fascinating medical details, a unique murder method, and effective use of multiple points of view (narration alternates among Purdy, DeCampe, and several law-enforcement officers) help redeem the gruesome story. For fans of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs--if they can hold out until the pacing picks up. --Sue O'Brien

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Aug. 6) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved