Sacred Sins is one of Nora Roberts’ late 80’s-era novels, and for me at least, it falls somewhat flat compared to her later work. The elements are certainly in place for a nice suspenseful story: a killer’s on the loose in Washington D.C., a killer the media dubs the Priest for his habit of leaving his young, pretty victims arranged in pious repose and notes reading “her sins are forgiven her”. It’s the same sort of murder formula she’d put to good use later in the J.D. Robbs, but here, the plot feels rougher and less polished.
Most of the fault for this lay for me in the too-simple characterizations of the cast. I got the feeling that the leads fell in love with each other mostly because they were the leads and it was their job to do so; they made a big deal at each other about how he hated psychiatrists because one had failed to help his brother, tormented by his service in Vietnam, and she was so put off by police work because it was full of violence and death. There was a lot of needless conflict as well with the hero accusing the heroine of not being interested in proper justice, since as a psychiatrist she was (or so he believed) more interested in treating the killer rather than getting justice for the victims.
I think the Nora Roberts of ten years or so after this novel could have pulled off this plot nicely, but the Nora Roberts of 1987 didn’t feel like she was quite there yet. Two stars.