cover image Boneman


Lisa W. Cantrell. Tor Books, $18.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85307-5

In her lively fourth novel (after Torments ), Cantrell again mixes crime and horror fiction to chronicle strange and frightening events in the underworld drug trade of Phoenix City, N.C. In his free time, reporter J.J. Spencer writes stories about his fictional protagonist Jehovah Jones (``God has grown tired of The Job and decided to abdicate, come down to Earth and become an adventurer''). He also worries about his hard-drinking best friend, police detective Dallas Reid, who is investigating a series of drug-related murders with State Bureau of Investigation special agent Jackie Swann, a beautiful woman disturbed by the effects her job is having on her marriage. None of them realizes that a drug lord has brought in a voodoo master to wipe out his competition and that zombies are taking over the streets. The story moves along predictable paths, but Cantrell's fast-paced style redeems a multitude of sins, not least of which is the fact that the villain's actions are inconsistent with his supposed motive. The agreeable J.J. and a pair of final twists, of which one if not both will surprise most readers, provide enough diversion for anyone not unduly bothered by loose ends and discrepancies. ( Nov. )