cover image A Man's Game

A Man's Game

Newton Thornburg. Forge, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85923-7

Successful Seattle paper salesman Jack Baird's settled--if not idyllic--life is disrupted when his 18-year-old daughter is stalked by Slade, an obsessive sociopathic ex-con who menaces her with sexual threats. Jack's restless, disenchanted wife, mildly disturbed by his unnaturally close relationship with their daughter, is more concerned with searching for her own fulfillment. When Jack goes to the cops to get a restraining order, he discovers that Slade is a suspect in a series of rapes and murders; yet, strangely, the investigating officer seems unmotivated to intervene. The problem escalates when Jack confronts Slade and makes an impotent attempt to intimidate him. The dilemma is further complicated by Jack's rapidly progressing alcoholism and his sexual attraction to the seductive partner of the senior detective. Tormented by his escalating rage and frustration, Jack desperately tries to trap Slade by pretending to befriend him. Jack's misguided effort to protect his family effects a chilling Jekyll-Hyde transformation as he is pushed beyond the edge of reason by fear and confused feelings for his daughter. Murder, incest and a damning indictment of an indifferent law enforcement system are the themes that propel this chilling tour of society's sleazy underside. (Apr.)