BLACK VALLEY

Jim Brown, Author . Ballantine $23.95 (355p) ISBN 978-0-345-44699-2

A madman terrorizes a small Oregon town in this chill-o-rama that ventures deep into the world of lurid fantasy. Residents of Black Valley think they got rid of the sadistic Whitey Dobbs by burying him alive on a wintry night 22 years ago. They're wrong. Dobbs—known for his bone-white hair, chilling laugh and skill with a switchblade—is spared from death by a miraculous radioactive effect that turns him into an immortal time-traveler, capable of visiting the past, present and future at will. Most frequently, Dobbs returns to Black Valley in all his murderous glory to seek vengeance on the five men who as teenagers stuffed him in a coffin and laid him to rest in a deep grave on haunted Hawkins Hill. Steadily, Dobbs begins slicing up his old enemies and anyone else who happens to stand in the way. The one he saves for last is Dean Truman, now a Nobel Prize–winning scientist and college professor who figures out how Dobbs has managed to come back to life with superhuman powers as well as the skill of being able to disappear whenever he pleases. Truman, aided by his vivacious colleague, Piper Blackmoore, knows it's going to require guts and cunning to take down the elusive Dobbs. Toward the end, the plot takes on an almost farcical quality as Brown (24/7) heaps on one outrageous twist after another, yet there is no doubt he knows his way around a nail-biter. His many cliffhangers teeter just right, his tone strikes a convincing balance between ominous and terrifying and many of his characters are just quirky enough to strike fleeting doubts about their sanity. 3-city author tour. (July)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
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