cover image Street


Jack Cady. St. Martin's Press, $19.95 (212pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11455-8

World Fantasy Award-winner Cady's (The Sons of Noah and Other Stories) disappointing horror novel about street people battling a serial killer of young women in Seattle is clearly, if loosely, based on that city's real-life Green River killings. The unnamed narrator (a well-to-do former actor) and four of his companions (including a Vietnam vet and an ex-nun), who live in an abandoned church called ``The Sanctuary,'' are five of fiction's most unlikely street people. In order to track the murderer, for example, the narrator is somehow able to transform himself into any identity he chooses, including those of a 58-year-old Yankee dowager and a black jazz musician. Even if Cady is making use of the conventions of the antinovel in order to present characters that readers won't easily identify with and a ``reality'' that need only approximate the real, the narrator's many forays into deep-cover roles are a distractingly unconvincing element. The narrator's almost sing-song street-talk narration ventures into overblown didacticism at times, too. By the time the killer has a final face-off with the Sanctuary dwellers, readers will be checking their watches, not their pulses. (Oct.)