The Van: A Tale of Terror

John Dudley Ball, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (434p) ISBN 978-0-312-02667-7
This posthumous novel by the author of In the Heat of the Night begins with a tasty red herring, continues through a number of well-prepared courses, finishes with sweet revenge. The creator of Virgil Tibbs has laced the talewritten with the cooperation of the L.A. Police Department and based on an actual Southern California case involving a pair of serial murdererswith authentic investigative details. Though there is a fictional heroine, Dr. Flavia Alvarez de la Torre, a sociologist turned ``criminalist'' (Ball's term), it may disturb readers to find stereotypical female victims, young girls tortured, raped, mutilated. Readers may also object to insistent proselytizing against the California parole system, Supreme Court, liberal judgesindeed, against anything cops oppose; Ball's one roughed-up suspect unconvincingly resists arrest. But such issues aside, this novel, if not as terror-filled as its subtitle promises, is competently written, superbly paced, consistently interesting. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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