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FEAR ITSELF

Barret Schumacher, Author
Barret Schumacher, Author . Forge $26.95 (383p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0130-7
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A tinted review in adult Forecasts indicates a book that's of exceptional importance to our readers, but that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.

FEAR ITSELFBarret Schumacher. Forge, $26.95 (384p) ISBN 0-765-30130-X

Schumacher debuts strongly with this captivatingly spooky thriller about a San Francisco doctor seeking to make sense of the savage killing of his wife and then revenge her death. Dr. Reed Haler, a geneticist working toward a cure for childhood leukemia, had always made light of his wife's uncanny ability to predict the future. But after Devrie Haler is pulled from her tent on a camping trip with Reed and brutally murdered, Reed begins scrutinizing her diary. Not only does he discover that she foretold her impending death and that of their unborn child, but also that she made veiled references to the identity of the killer and to future victims. Haler abandons his research and embarks on a cross-country search steered solely by the clues he gleans from the diary. He eventually stumbles on a disturbing revelation: someone with mystical powers is killing people whose work could eventually lead to dramatic increases in human life span. But why kill Devrie, a third-grade teacher? Piece by piece, Haler assembles the puzzle. His quest takes him to Alamosa, N.Mex., where he begins to feel the presence of evil and sets the stage for drawing the killer out. Schumacher's otherwise inventive story line leaves several questions unanswered in the end, and his narrative's reliance on dream sequences tends to interrupt rather than advance the story. Yet the plot's strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. The narrative moves naturally, devoid of the form's usual trappings and twists. Schumacher has created a highly sympathetic character in Haler and thrown him into a tense, desperate situation rich in suspense and action. (Jan.)

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