Reviewed by Ian Lipke
Those who like fast-paced American crime novels will like this book. Those who can hail a police detective and praise him for making lightning decisions that are invariably correct will love this novel. Those who can understand humanity by basing judgments on theories of psychology will be right at home here, and those who love reading about a really, dirty villain will be with me, rolling through all the blood, having the time of my life.
Peace! Let’s get serious here! Nobody of sound mind would support the crimes this villain commits. But the telling of the story allows no suggestion other than that this book is meant to be escapist, silly in parts, a spoof on serious crime writing.
Consider the characters! Angela is twenty-one, a very alert young woman who is angry with the world, but smart enough to make her own future. She’s on her own by choice, never touches drugs, and is a professional pickpocket, content with a limited income, because taking more than a moderate amount of other people’s money is likely to stir up more trouble than her comfortable life can afford. She makes a big mistake and a serial killer begins looking for her. She’s smart enough to put action in train that gains the help of the hero of the novel, Robert Hunter, a detective with the LAPD. Angela is a thoroughly likeable character because the author made her a particular type of human being and kept her actions and speech congruent with her character type.
Robert Hunter is a very peculiar policeman. When all evidence points to Path A as the only way to stymie the murderer, Hunter will deliver a lecture on some aspect of human psychological behaviour to a rapt audience of colleagues, who are never bored or irritated by his lectures and always accept his advice. On pages 234 – 35 alone, he manages to demolish everybody else’s belief that the killer must be schizophrenic, and he deduces through a piece of unbelievable logic the meaning of the strange letters BFOA. Yet he doesn’t twig that, if a certain piece of technology, a tracker, is located in one side of a diary, the killer just might have the technology to find it. In the shoot-out with the killer, his bullet lands first directly into the brain, freezing the killer’s actions…but the scene does not obey Newton’s first law of motion.
Angela likes Hunter, the author obviously finds him more than acceptable as a creation, and as a reader, I enjoyed him too. Hunter represents the serious side of law and order, but he is so far from the stereotyped cop of fiction, that I warm to his presence.
The bad guy is a villain indeed. At times his actions are just plain stupid, at others he acts in an intelligent manner. Who would write complete details of the crimes he had committed in a diary? Then, who but a gormless individual would store it in a bag that could be stolen at any time of the day or night? But how quickly he tracked down Angela and how long did he keep the police hunting before the final showdown? On page 336 is the insignificant sentence, ‘Then someone wearing a rubber werewolf mask came into view’. From then until the end of the book on page 480, the villain is always called the Werewolf. It seems such a lame way of introducing a name that will be prominent over the next 144 pages. In this section of the book, there is much interaction between the hero and the villain. This is edgy reading and skillful writing.
I’ve made the point that we’re not claiming that this story will ever rival David Copperfield or Vanity Fair. It’s nothing more than a highly enjoyable piece of fiction. I loved it!
By Chris Carter
Simon & Schuster
$32.99; 496 pp