Mirror Maze:: A Janek Novel

William Bayer, Author Villard Books $21 (338p) ISBN 978-0-679-41459-9
Bayer hit the bestseller lists with the first Frank Janek story, Switch , an entertaining thriller with few pretenses. With luck and a hype tailwind, his third Janek novel ( Wallflower was the second) may sell despite some arty baggage. NYPD Lieutenant Janek is working on the murder of a businessman in a midtown hotel. The victim was slipped a mickey, his room ransacked and ``you are a total jerk'' was written in mirror-writing on his chest with indelible marker. He was also shot and robbed of a prototype computer chip. A woman named Gelsey duped and robbed the guy while in the grip of an obsession caused by childhood sexual abuse. But she's really a good kid--and a talented painter. After Janek locates her, he helps her acknowledge that her father abused her with her mother's complicity, a realization that her nice (now dead) old shrink was unable to effect. Janek's investigation also leads to an old sex-scandal murder involving a very tangled web of kinkiness, greed, police corruption and betrayal. There are dozens of colorful characters but most of them are 2-D and Bayer's psychobabble and overheated language really dampen any thrills: in a face-off against two nasties, Janek muses there ``was a rigor to the design these players made that reminded him of paintings by De Chirico showing lonely figures on vast Italian squares . . . he felt the same strong ambience of ritual, inevitability and fate.'' Janek's final situation--back in uniform on the streets--is equally preposterous. BOMC selection. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/1994
Release date: 02/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
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