In three previous mysteries, LAPD homicide detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs have tackled some pretty dastardly criminals. In CUT, PASTE, KILL, they take on their most nefarious killer yet: a murderer who owns cats, designs scrapbooks, and (apparently) looks a whole lot like Betty White. But nabbing a little old lady is a lot more complicated than it would first appear, as Biggs and Lomax encounter a half-dozen harrowing plot twists before this case is closed.
"Lomax and Biggs might be wise-crackers, but they're also darn fine cops, and they are determined to track down this killer before she can strike again."
Vigilante justice is taken to a whole new level by this killer, who evidently has made it her mission to take matters into her own hands when wrongdoers walk free. Her first victims include a pedophile priest and a drunk driver who escaped a vehicular manslaughter charge thanks to diplomatic immunity. In each case, they are killed with a quick scissors to the spleen. And it turns out that the killer knows her way around scissors, since she leaves a calling card: a well-designed scrapbook featuring the life and crimes of her victims.
Lomax and Biggs might be wise-crackers, but they're also darn fine cops, and they are determined to track down this killer before she can strike again. At one point, the file on this case seems pretty open and shut. But then the killer --- or an impeccable copycat --- strikes again, and our heroes are left feeling like they're looking at a blank (scrapbook) page once again.
In other news, Mike's dad, Big Jim Lomax, has his starry eyes set on a new career: as a big-time Hollywood screenwriter. His concept? A film called Semi Justice, about a couple of cops (naturally) who hang up their hats in favor of driving big rigs cross-country, solving crime along the way ("kind of like The Lone Ranger and Tonto in an eighteen-wheeler"). And don't you dare tell Big Jim --- or his creative partner, Terry Biggs --- that this idea is half-baked. They're determined to strike it big --- and to do so with the help of an all-star cast and the perfect twilight desert opening shot, which may prove as elusive as the killer Biggs and Lomax are tracking.
As for Mike, he's feeling the pressure to make things permanent with his girlfriend, Diana. Neither one of them is getting any younger, and the time is now if they want to try to have a baby. But Mike remembers all too well how stressful things got when he and his first wife tried --- and failed --- to conceive. But fate might let Mike and Diana try on parenthood earlier than either of them was expecting, with yet another plot twist that may certainly have implications for future books in this excellent series.
Marshall Karp's mysteries have always balanced comic absurdity with exciting mystery plots. In CUT, PASTE, KILL, Karp shows that he's just as skillful with plotting, character development, and those groan-eliciting one-liners as his villain is with scissors, glue stick and fancy papers.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on December 29, 2010