The best part of this lurid horror novel from Canadian van Belkom is the prologue, originally a short story, set on a hot, smelly, graffiti-covered subway train in a pre-Giuliani New York City. An unnamed woman, apparently suffering badly from her period, can't wait to get home to Brooklyn. In a climactic twist so shocking it's almost funny, it turns out she has an anatomical anomaly—an extra set of teeth located in a part of the body ordinarily devoted to more intimate functions than eating. In extending this idea to novel length the author betrays its limits. Two years later, Joe Williams, an earnest, if plodding, Toronto detective, chases hopelessly after a brutal killer whose victims tend to be despicable rapists, until aided by the long arm of improbable coincidence. A subplot involving the fate of Williams's overly independent daughter doesn't stray from its predictable path, while the delayed revelation of the remarkably equipped killer's identity is embarrassingly unconvincing. Flat writing and characterization on top of crudely exaggerated male and female sexual polarities don't win van Belkom any prizes for style or subtlety. This book will titillate young readers eager for sensation and will repel their elders, who should know better but may not. After all, several horror notables, including the late Richard Laymon (who contributes an enthusiastic introduction), supply ringing endorsements. Agent, Joshua Bilmes. (June)
FYI:The author has won the Bram Stoker Award and the Aurora Award (Canada's top prize for speculative fiction) and has been nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award by the Crime Writers of Canada.