John R. Maxim, Author WHISTLER'S ANGEL John R. $25 (368p) ISBN 978-0-380-97545-7

Except for himself—and even he doesn't seem all that certain—no one knows exactly how many people Adam Whistler has killed. Now, however, at age 34, Whistler, the star of Maxim's slick, darkly comic bad guy vs. bad guy crime drama, is tiring of all the contract hits. Besides, he thinks a lot of his victims are being killed so his employer, an obscure arm of the U.S. government, can seize their homes, boats, cars, etc.—all under asset forfeiture laws meant for drug dealers. But it's not so easy to simply walk away from such jobs. Whistler's boss, Felix Aubry, isn't keen on having his operatives wandering around loose once they've gotten in so deep. Whistler leaves the business nonetheless, cruising the world in a boat with his beautiful girlfriend, Claudia, but he is uneasy with his new life. Claudia, however, has recently come through a near-death experience and seems to possess a sixth sense for danger: she assures Whistler that she's his guardian angel. In fact, she does save his life several times throughout their travels, yet when the pair sail from Antigua and dock in Hilton Head, the attacks get more serious, and Whistler has to fall back on his old killing ways. The extended finale, involving several players from the author's past books, is an expertly choreographed death dance showcasing Maxim's storytelling strengths: farce, blisteringly paced action and memorably peculiar characters. (Mar.)

Forecast:Maxim (Mosaic; the Bannerman series), who's been writing top-grade thrillers for more than two decades, continues to be one of the form's best-kept secrets. He's in fine shape here, and word-of-mouth should attract more of the loyal readers he deserves.

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
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Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-06-008571-1
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Mass Market Paperbound - 416 pages - 978-0-380-79355-6
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