cover image Predator's Waltz

Predator's Waltz

Jay Brandon. St. Martin's Press, $17.95 (277pp) ISBN 978-0-312-03413-9

The most interesting part of Brandon's hardcover debut (after Deadbolt ; Tripwire ) is the juxtaposition of Houston's ``Little Vietnam'' with the downtown area that resembles ``the Emerald City of Oz.'' When a Vietnamese pawnbroker opens a shop nearby, Daniel Greer's business suffers from the competition. Daniel requests help from gangleader Tranh Van Khai, but backs off when he realizes Khai's price of $20,000 means murder. Khai, however, still hopes that Daniel's father-in-law, a rich City Councilman, can help eliminate Khai's rival Tang. Kidnapping Carol Greer to put pressure her father, Khai has not reckoned with Daniel's desperate love for his wife, whom he sets out to find. The action scenes could be crisper and some descriptions of torture approach real nastiness, but the book sweeps the reader along to a bang-up, slightly sentimental ending. Among the interesting, believable characters are Loftus, a nasty American working for Khai; Thien, a 16-year-old with large ambitions; and Daniel, whose almost palpable sense of being a foreigner in his own city adds nicely to his sense of desperation in this able suspense novel. (Nov.)