Twice Dying

Neil McMahon, Author HarperCollins $24 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-019364-5
There are a lot of skeletons in the closets of this taut, spare debut, but the dark and creepy side of this thriller, where everyone has something to hide, is subsumed by the very sparseness that initially gives the book its unique voice. All the right elements for a suspenseful tale are present. Psychiatrist Alison Chapley learns that at Clevinger Hospital's psych unit, Dr. Francis Jephson has been diagnosing murderous sociopaths as suffering from mild schizophrenia, and then releasing them back into the world. She calls upon her former lover, San Francisco malpractice investigator Carroll Monks, to help. Years ago, Monks and Chapley's relationship was erotically charged with hints of violence, and the psychology of their love connection evolves intriguingly. Soon their sleuthing reveals a link among Jephson; the corrupt, powerful Vandenard family; and a mysterious criminal mastermind who calls herself Naia, Queen of Cobras. As Monks and Chapley close in on a network of psychotic killers, they find themselves in Naia's crosshairs. McMahon's clean and concise style is refreshing, helping to build tension, but as things start to get scary for Monks and Chapley, the narrative remains steady and stark, never ascending to a truly suspenseful pitch. When one of the main characters suffers a potentially transforming ordeal, it happens, like a death in Greek tragedy, offstage; and the novel ends with a clinical, distant finale. Though the skeletons in the closet are revealed with cleverness and expertise, they don't come to terrifying life. Author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 288 pages - 978-0-06-109835-2
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-203160-0
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