The Shadow Box

John R. Maxim, Author Avon Books $23 (380p) ISBN 978-0-380-97300-2
Maxim's crackjack thriller inaugurates not only Avon's new hardcover line but also a fresh direction for the author, who here abandons his usual spy-vs.-spy milieu (Bannerman's Law, etc.) to highlight the terrifying dimensions of the manufacture and international trade in counterfeit prescription drugs. The hook is classic: a man watches his life stolen from him as he learns that everything he once assumed true is false. The set-upon hero is Manhattan investment banker Mike Fallon, whose Uncle Jake--not quite a gangster, not quite a saint--is beaten to death with a baseball bat. Then Mike's fiancee is killed in a convenience store holdup; and he is fired from his job. Mike begins to feel that New York is out to get him, especially after he's nearly pushed in front of a subway car and then is assaulted by a pair of muggers. Close to panic, he flees to Martha's Vineyard, where he attempts to begin a new life and is drawn to Megan Cole, a psychic with a troubled past. But those New York attacks weren't random; behind them looms a shadow out of the Fallon past, a man who is tied to both Mike's dead father and to the murdered Jake. When one of the muggers turns out to be connected to Mike's old employer, Mike's lawyer joins up with Jake's former bodyguard and his underworld associates to try to uncover the truth. It's a complicated storyline that Maxim plays out with skill, boosting the narration with fluid writing and well-drawn characters. He also reveals enough frightening details about the drug business to scare readers off prescriptions for the rest of their lives. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Mass Market Paperbound - 393 pages - 978-0-380-78668-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-380-79643-4
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