Chris Petit, Author . S&S/Atria $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7434-1706-8

Conspiracy freaks with nothing to do can pop a Haldol in jubilation upon the publication of this third book from former Time Out London film editor Petit (The Psalm Killer; Back from the Dead). Joe Hoover, a widowed, aging wartime double agent with a mysterious disease, is summoned from Florida to Frankfurt via his old WWII call sign from Karl-Heinz Strasse, a former SS officer, 60 years after the fall of the Third Reich, for reasons that possibly involve the agent's duplicitous (and promiscuous) former boss Betty von Heimendorf. Alongside this tale of wartime pros gathering at journey's end is the tense, sweating parallel story of Vaughan, an English investigative journalist undercover in a group of neo-Nazi skinheads, investigating Karl-Heinz's life story for his boss, a bored media tycoon, while trying to get his mind off his incestuous relationship with his half-sister, Dora. As the story oozes in all directions through an increasingly disjointed series of letters, secret memos and drunken ravings by every member of the shifting cast, Petit conjures up a vague, amorphous hijack of humanity by vested political and economic interests perpetuating a warped biological testing program (on "the human pool") à la Einsatzgruppen. The reader will be lost long before the realization that there is no clear resolution to the novel, just an ever-increasing background volume of paranoia, manifested mainly in poor Vaughan ("The second time I crawled back into the box voluntarily. The third time I didn't come out"). As Hoover himself puts it to the curious Vaughan in the novel's clearest exchange: "Why not leave it alone?" "Because I'll be dead soon and it's about time I knew." Readers may well echo his sentiments. Agent, Gillon Aitken.(Oct. 22)

Reviewed on: 10/07/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-4165-7503-0
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-7434-3641-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 480 pages - 978-0-7434-1707-5
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