Page turners: The Fallen

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The Fallen, by T. Jefferson Parker ($24.95)

Det. Robbie Brownlaw doesn't mess around with polygraph tests: He has a built-in lie detector. Three years ago, he was thrown out of a sixth-story window. He survived, but since then, whenever people speak, he sees their emotions as shapes and colors. "After three years, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the colors and shapes of other people's feelings unless they don't match up with their words," he says.

The synesthesia is a neat trick, but two-time Edgar Award-winner Parker doesn't let it overwhelm the plot, nor does it render Brownlaw foolproof. In fact, even those closest to him blindside the San Diego detective as he tries to solve the murder of a former cop. The trail leads to so much corruption that Brownlaw gets plenty of practice watching red squares of deception tumble out of the mouths of local officials. He soon realizes that finding the killer is going to take more than a nifty ability to see emotions as Lucky Charms. Grade: B

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