James W. Hall, Jim Hall. St. Martin's Press, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-312-19243-3
Following last year's downcast Red Sky at Night, which left beachcomber-hero Thorn in a wheelchair, Hall bounces back with a new protagonist, Alexandra Rafferty, an appealing fourth-degree blackbelt, crime-scene photographer and all-around Miami PD femme Nikita. Shadowed by 18 years of guilt from the grisly aftermath of her rape at age 11, Alex is the loving caregiver to her father, an ex-cop befuddled by senility. Caught up in a series of serial killings of young women whose bodies are left in bizarre postures, Alex is unaware that her cretinoid husband, Stan, an armored car driver, is planning the perfect robbery. All hell breaks loose when a sexy pool-cleaner/ burglar (who keeps a pet cockroach in her pocket) chances on the scene and sees Stan's airhead mistress make off with two bags worth a cool million. When Alex's pixilated dad steals back the loot, most of the major elements of this whimsical action-packed plot are in place. The ensuing 600-mile chase takes Alex and dad to Seaside, the well-known planned community on the sugary beaches of the Florida panhandle. Forgiving the distracting, superfluous plot threads, Hall fans will be more than reimbursed by his poetic imagery in the landscapes and love scenes. Alex is a heroine with enough endearing attributes to sustain yet another long-running character series. $200,000 ad/promo; audio to Brilliance; author tour. Agent, Richard Pine; editor, Jenifer Weis. (Sept.) FYI: Seaside, Fla., was the location for the new Jim Carrey film, The Truman Show.
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998