Having read "Where Serpents Lie" and "The Fallen", I decided to go back and read Mr. Parker's books in chronological order. This is his third tome and my fifth Parker read.
Mr. Parker has the unique ability to draw the reader into the mystery surrounding the story he's trying to tell. In this case, there are two: The protagonist is not only trying to solve a murder that hits very close to home, but also assist the police in solving a serial murder spree - which may or may not be directly connected to his own case. The interactions that follow, including the touch of dealing with a terminally ill wife (that he adores) are very well put to print. I personally enjoy this kind of mystery and rank this one up to some of the best. Unlike "Little Saigon", which had more characters than you could shake a stick at, Mr. Parker kept the cast of "Summer of Fear" to a manageable size. Plot development was excellent, and I'm glad that he improved the quality of the dialogue between them.
All is not great, however. I wouldn't recommend this book to someone looking for really tight plotting in the hunt for a serial killer. Many novels dealing with serial killers can be too gruesome and grueling to read, which sometimes has a fascination all its own. Where this book shines is the way in which Mr. Parker weaves a web of conflicting emotions surrounding multiple adult relationships. Mr. Parker does a remarkable job allowing us to peer into the life of someone watching as a loved one suffers a debilitating, potentially terminal illness.
While there are a few plot weaknesses in "Summer of Fear", I would recommend this novel if you truly appreciate a good character study in the way people interact under multiple stress loads.