John Farris, Farris. Forge, $25.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85072-2
Inventive, sexy and intricately plotted, this latest thriller from the prolific (and curiously unheralded) Farris (Soon She Will Be Gone) keeps his work close to the top of the heap. Tobin Bonner, once a DEA agent, is now the sheriff of impoverished Solar County in the remote Four Corners region of Utah. Bonner falls hard for movie stuntwoman Shay Waco (the estranged daughter of star cowboy Silverwhip Jack) after watching Shay perform on the set of a Vegas shoot. Shay and her 11-year-old daughter Pepper are on their way home from Nevada, via Solar County, when a mysterious driver rams Shay's SUV, sending it over a cliff. Using her stunt skills, Shay saves Pepper's life. Mother and daughter flee to a nearby house, where they find a Latino family--all but the baby daughter--dead, apparent victims of a gangland murder. Sheriff Bonner investigates, and the list of suspects widens to include Mexican drug lords, a couple who train wild animals for movies, a chimerical wheeler-dealer and his horny wife, and the sexually ambiguous daughter of the founder of the Brightly Shining, a polygamous, chiliastic sect of rogue Mormons. Then Bonner's old enemy and ex-DEA sidekick, Dale Stearman, shows up with a busload of federal agents seeking a neutron bomb. And that's just the rim of the canyon. Farris finds room later on for more murder and oddball characters, steamy sex, kinky psychology, old blood feuds and a lode of local lore. Most thriller writers would consider such material too much for one book. Farris slips everything into place with ease, however, and his complex denouement is both easy to follow and superbly engrossing. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999