THE DARK FIELDS

Alan Glynn, Author . Bloomsbury USA $24.95 (341p) ISBN 978-1-58234-224-5

Bordering on techno-thriller territory, this slick, suspenseful debut imagines a new breed of "smart drug" that produces some deadly side effects. After complaining about life in desperate times to his drug dealer/ex-brother-in-law Vernon, divorced Manhattan copywriter Eddie Spinola is tempted by the glittering promise of MDT-48, an illegal, nearly unknown designer medication guaranteed to spike intelligence and personality in mere minutes. It really works, but Eddie's initial rush is so mind-blowing that even discovering Vernon's murdered body (and a hidden stash of cash and pills) barely interrupts his growing addiction. He chooses to ignore the mounting side effects of MDT-48: piercing headaches, intense bouts of rage and "trip-switching," a phenomenon in which time moves with a stop-motion quality. Day trading on the stock market like a seasoned professional, Eddie soon becomes an immensely wealthy junkie armed with awe-inspiring artistic and financial brainpower. But when he's implicated in the brutal murder of a high-profile artist's wife and also linked to pharmaceutical espionage, his perfect new world unravels and the shocking truth about MDT-48's origin and purpose is revealed. Glynn's sustained, rapid-fire pace hurls readers headfirst toward a gripping, if bleak, conclusion that makes for some breathless page-turning. Dublin-based Glynn, who lived in New York for four years, gets the frenzied pace of the city just right. And though Eddie's demise is foreshadowed from the opening paragraph, his likability as a protagonist serves the swift and thrilling narrative well. Fine secondary characters like shady Russian loan shark Gennady and Eddie's ex-wife Melissa appear in many scenes, but the reader remains riveted to Eddie's fate in this impeccably imagined and executed debut. (Jan.)

Forecast:Young, hip readers who are open to experimentation will be the first audience for this credible and timely thriller. Word of mouth will do the rest.

Reviewed on: 11/19/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
Paperback - 341 pages - 978-1-58234-273-3
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-7515-3083-4
Paperback - 381 pages - 978-958-45-3193-3
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