Murder, migraines and mambos mix messily in this latest from veteran thriller writer Wilson (Extinct; Direct Descendant). At the South Louisiana Sleep Disorders Institute, a young woman lies strangled while obese accountant Henry Womack, another patient, has disappeared into the bayou. Nearby, the parents of a celebrated local freak named Boudron are found butchered, and Boudron is discovered hiding behind a screen of voodoo amulets. Enter Mark French, a deputy just back on duty after a three-year hiatus following his botched attempt to rescue three hostages from a crazed gunman in New Orleans. Spooked by offers of help from the blatantly sinister institute head, Shasha Dominique, a secret voodoo priestess, Mark and his colleagues vacillate between fingering the one-armed Boudron and the plainly zombified Womack. But when Womack and Boudron both turn up dead, it's clear that the bad guys are still on the prowl, even with a surfeit of good guys trying to apprehend them--including Mark's love interest, forensic psychologist Kelly Dalton. Someone is evidently manipulating the institute's so-called ""lucid dreaming"" technique to persuade innocents to carry out crimes through hypnotic suggestion. To the author's credit, there are one or two unforeseen twists to the otherwise humdrum plot. By the time its dastardly dynamic is exposed, however, most readers will long since have lost interest. Cut-up paragraphs and touristy descriptions of voodoo practices litter the pages without much pattern, and the prose ranges from wooden to downright leaden. (Feb. 16) Forecast: A routine offering should translate into routine hardcover numbers; the inevitable mass market edition should fare better.