Douglas Clegg, Author . Onyx $6.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-451-41167-9

Stoker-winner Clegg (The Hour Before Dark ) has an uncanny ability to frighten readers by chronicling everyday characters' perilous descents into their own private hells. Julie Hutchinson mentally unravels after the brutal and mysterious murder of her husband, Jeff, in this stand-alone tale full of subtle suspense, inventive twists and credible characters. Julie has erotic nightmares and hideous hallucinations while slowly trying to piece together the decades-old puzzle involving her husband's past work with Project Daylight, a now-defunct privately funded school that conducted experiments on young children with ESP. Eventually, with the assistance of her mother, daughter and stepson, as well as Jeff's ex-wife and Michael Diamond, a popular TV psychic, Julie unearths bizarre secrets about her family that lead her to an underground society of scientific misfits. The book's final sentence is guaranteed to unnerve readers and leave them wanting more. A concise writer, Clegg manages to weave into his plot such grand ideas as reincarnation and psychic phenomena in a mere 272 pages. Many other writers would have taken twice as long to tell a tale half as captivating. Agent, Simon Lipskar. (Dec.)

FYI: Clegg has recently sold a vampire trilogy, The Vampyricon, to Berkley/Ace for six figures. The first volume, The Priest of Blood, is scheduled for October 2005.

Reviewed on: 11/22/2004
Release date: 12/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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