Next of Kin

Joseph Schreiber, Author Putnam Publishing Group $21.95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-399-13928-4
Fresh language, eye-catching imagery and no-brakes action distinguish this debut suspense thriller, which is marred only by the failure of the second half to deliver fully on the promises of the first. An October morning in Michigan finds 14-year-old Nicholas Danzig eating Frosted Mini-Wheats while his parents field a call from ``great uncle'' Titus Heller. That same morning Nicholas is kidnapped on the way to school by Anthem, 19, who tells him she once had wings and that she is his long-lost sister who wants to reunite him with their brother Ovid and ``real'' father Jack. She promises a meteorological cataclysm when Nicholas meets Ovid in California, where they're headed, and indeed the weather turns wintry as they meander ``west.'' Only when Anthem drives into Lake Superior does her destination--and the Lewis Carroll-like bent of her badly damaged mind--begin to become clear. Presumed dead, Nicholas is imprisoned by Titus, a wheelchair-bound, pure oxygen-dependent tycoon. The boy learns Titus's nefarious secrets and the true nature of his business and their relationship. Although the villain's motives and madness never quite ring true and Anthem's fate keenly disappoints, Schreiber's often mesmerizing tale showcases a talent that's sure to ripen. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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