The Mad Cook of Pymatuning

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, Author . Simon & Schuster $24 (309p) ISBN 978-0-684-83427-6

When 17-year-old Jerry Muller returns to Camp Seneca as a junior counselor in Lehmann-Haupt's entertaining new novel of summertime suspense, he finds he's in for more than the Pennsylvania camp's typical "controlled chaos." This year (the summer of 1952), Jerry has brought along his nine-year-old half-brother, Peter, and an excess of psychological baggage from his divorced parents, a single, alcoholic mother and his remarried father. Jerry hopes to show Peter a good time—and have a good time himself with a pretty new girl named T.J.—but camp owner Woody Wentworth's "character building exercises" take on a sinister tone. Woody's campfire tales leave children in tears; the annual Snipe Hunt (an armed bird-bagging contest) turns survivalist; and the atmosphere grows "savage, like they're preparing for war." More disturbing is the adult administrator, Buck Silverstone, aka Redclaw, who runs the Indian program and has some unorthodox activities planned. The question is not if Redclaw will go off the deep end, but when he does, how gory will it be and how many campers will he take with him? Lehmann-Haupt (A Crooked Man ) builds suspense and delivers the expected cataclysmic conclusion to this scary campfire tale. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/11/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-7432-4229-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 308 pages - 978-0-425-21422-0
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