Michael Collins, Author . Viking $23.95 (257p) ISBN 978-0-670-03328-7

Part police procedural, part piercing psychological character study, Collins's latest novel revolves around a series of lurid murders that threaten the equilibrium of the unstable cop who investigates the killings, as well as the unnamed Midwestern town where they take place. The narrator is Lawrence, an erratic, disgruntled cop who finds the body of a three-year-old girl while on patrol on Halloween night. The initial investigation indicates that the girl was killed in a hit-and-run accident by high school quarterback Kyle Johnson; as the evidence begins to pile up, the police chief and mayor pressure Lawrence to help cover up Johnson's role in the crime. Lawrence goes along, but is seized by guilt and takes off on his own, keeping watch over the mother of the dead child. Then Johnson's girlfriend, Cheryl Carpenter, is found murdered soon after the child's death. As more killings ravage the town, Lawrence becomes both suspect and potential victim in a bizarre series of plot twists. Collins's style, which alternates between the clipped prose of a cop novel and some surreally introspective passages, gives the book the prose feel of a David Lynch film. Exposing the seedier elements of smalltown life, the author continues to successfully mine the same territory that got his first novel, The Keepers of Truth , shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. West Coast author tour. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/26/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 260 pages - 978-0-14-303588-6
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