Payback

Philip Harper, Author, Jonathan Neumann, With, Stuart Green, With Simon & Schuster $19.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-72328-6
Harper is the nom de plume of a Pulitzer Prize--winning journalist and a criminal psychologist, joint authors of this sometimes titillating, oftentimes sadistic debut thriller. A conscienceless psychopath named Reidus dreams up inventive tortures to deal out either at random or at the bidding of his boss, Carlton, a real estate con man. Sara, the volatile, redheaded daughter of a businessman ruined by this nefarious pair, has devoted months to a self-improvement program heavy on guns and martial arts. Now she wants vengeance for her father's suicide. When the private detective she hires ends up literally as dog meat, his friend George Gray, a blackmailer who extorts from crooks and gives to victims, enters the fray. Bones break, guns blast and blood spatters as Sara tracks Reidus and George tracks Sara. Their collision course ends in a homespun town whose inhabitants Reidus wants to torment and destroy in order to avenge their previous thwarting of a vicious attack, and George hopes to save with a wily bit of blackmail. Too pumped up to deliver the element of reality that generates spine-tingling terror, Payback relies on lavishly detailed explosions of violence to dress up a plot easy both to divine and to dismiss. Film rights optioned to Warner Bros. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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