G. M. Ford, Author . Morrow $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-380-97875-5

The bestselling true-crime writer Frank Corso and his tattoo-covered Girl Friday, Meg Dougherty, literally fall into the hunt for a bizarre serial killer in this suspenseful fun-and-gun adventure from Ford (Fury; Black River). Snowed in for days at O'Hare, Corso impulsively decides to rent an SUV and drive out of the storm zone, but when he gets to Avalon, Wis., he plunges off the icy road and over a cliff. Tearing up the flooring for firewood in the abandoned farm they take refuge in, Corso uncovers the corpses of a family, merely one set of victims in a killing spree spanning 30 years. Following in the tradition of John D. MacDonald and the Travis McGee romps, Ford's eclectic plot sends his hero from state to state, from an inbred mountain enclave in New Jersey to a nunnery with a murder. Deep into the book, he pointedly has a cop say, "This is like something out of science fiction." Corso and Dougherty alternate between acting like ruthless hard cases and giddy teenagers sneaking a joint—any excuse for a good scene, an entertaining moment (such as the guy who "looked like he'd been captured by vampires and was being kept as a pet"). When Corso falls into the hands of the killer and faces torture, though, Ford achieves fever pitch ("Corso began to make noises in his chest like a gored animal"). This is a thrill ride, sure to please readers looking for fast-paced suspense. (July 1)

Forecast:Popular within the mystery community, Ford often serves as toastmaster at conventions. A blurb from Dennis Lehane won't hurt, but it remains to be seen whether he can leap into a higher sales bracket. That Black River won the Spotted Owl award given to mysteries set in the Northwest suggests he's due for a national award nomination.

Reviewed on: 06/23/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-085372-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 368 pages - 978-0-06-085369-3
Paperback - 402 pages - 978-0-330-42016-7
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-184234-4
Ebook - 978-0-330-46793-3
Hardcover - 293 pages - 978-1-4050-3443-2
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-116055-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-380-81622-4
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