cover image The Night Stalker

The Night Stalker

James Swain, . . Ballantine, $25 (348pp) ISBN 978-0-345-47552-7

What crime fiction fan can resist a guy who isn't afraid to knock a few slime-bag heads when no one is watching? In Swain's fine second suspense novel to feature South Florida PI Jack Carpenter (after Midnight Rambler ), imprisoned serial killer Abb Grimes hires the tough, unrelenting ex-cop to find his kidnapped grandson, Sampson Grimes. The chief suspect is the child's father, Jed Grimes, but Jack thinks Jed is innocent, even though the evidence suggests otherwise. There's plenty of action and intelligent sleuthing, but it's Jack's uncompromising character and Swain's equally uncompromising writing that will keep readers turning pages and eager for the next installment: “I'd visited many prisons, and the smell was always the same: a choking mixture of piss, shit, fear, and desperation, wiped down by harsh antiseptics.” The winner of France's Prix Calibre 38, Swain is also the author of Deadman's Bluff and six other books in his Tony Valentine gambling series. (Oct.)