Twelve jurors declare an accused murderer innocent, much to the public's disbelief and disgust. Someone has taken it so personally that they're picking off all the members of that jury, one by one. Shock radio jock Ian Zachary has cashed in on the public's ghoulish interest with the case, earning his show some super ratings and the kind of publicity that you couldn't ever pay for. His ongoing game of "spot the juror" may get a lot of people killed as the killer tagged as "The Reaper" goes along his merry, murderous way - but in Zachary's own opinion, the public and everyone else is really only there to serve him, in any way that the egomaniac sees fit.
Not entirely sure whether the NYPD still has him in their employ or not, Detective Sgt. Riker spends the down hours managing a family business that gets him just as close to the evils that men and women can inflict on one another. His specialist cleaning business takes away some of the horror by removing all the blood and gore and getting the client's house or place of business looking again pretty much the way it did before someone decided to commit a murder in it.
Riker's former partner Kathy Mallory takes a personal offense in Riker's reluctance to return to the force; in particular as she disregards personal hurt once the obvious physical scars have healed. Four bullets to the chest may have taken Riker down, but Mallory refuses to let that take him out of her world. As the Reaper gets closer to eliminating the last of the twelve, Riker is drawn into the chase for very personal reasons. One of those jurors is someone who has become very dear to him.
"Dead Famous" is not the thriller that it might sound - the killer hunting down a jury who delivered a verdict he violently disagreed with. O'Connell's considerable talent is displayed here with the interaction of her characters and in particular the voice of Johanna Apollo, one of the jurors. Some of the drama veers close to the sob of melodrama but fortunately never crosses that line. It's disturbing to hear how O'Connell refers to the character of Apollo repeatedly as a "hunchback" (the character has a spinal deformity) but if she is attempting to harden the reader to her fictional world of New York, she succeeds. "Dead Famous" is the seventh novel in the Kathy Mallory series (also titled "The Jury Must Die" in other print editions), and features less of this female character as her lead in this book. The intensity never lets up in this read, and those emotional punches just keep coming out one after the other.