The House of Pain

Franklin Allen Leib, Author
Franklin Allen Leib, Author Forge $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-86616-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 368 pages - 978-0-8125-7781-5
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A deep compassion for fellow Vietnam veterans runs through Leib's (Fire Arrow) gripping courtroom drama about a Connecticut kidnapping rescue that goes horribly wrong. Sally Collins is 15 when she is abducted in a van outside the Westport Country Day School. Despite the family's apparent wealth, her father is broke and unable to meet the kidnappers' half-million-dollar demand. He turns to John Dietrich (aka Crazy Johnny), the girl's godfather, who cut his teeth on rescue missions in war-torn Hue. Johnny saves Sally, but not before killing her captors during a hallucinatory flashback triggered by his post-traumatic stress disorder. The courtroom battle that ensues when Johnny comes to trial reveals the case to be more complicated than at first it seemed--and little Sally less the ingenue. And Johnny turns out to be the real victim as he is forced again to confront the haunting guilt of his discovery, in Hue in 1968, of a basement full of dead children. Leib keeps the pace brisk and alternates effectively between his beleaguered protagonist and the suffering Collins family. In prose that's short and sharp, if somewhat canned, this solid legal thriller never loses contact with the moral questions that lie at its center. (Jan.)
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