cover image The Night Monster

The Night Monster

James Swain, . . Ballantine, $26 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-345-51546-9

Spock-like logic and a bullet-train–paced plot drive Swain's third thriller to feature Florida PI Jack Carpenter (after Midnight Rambler and Night Stalker ). When Carpenter fails to stop the brutal abduction of his daughter's college basketball teammate, he's painfully reminded of a serial abduction case he bungled 18 years before. Unearned guilt makes this latest case personal. Half-wit giant Lonnie and fellow inmate/mentor “Mouse” escape from an asylum for the criminally insane, and start seizing student nurses. Lonnie twice nearly kills Carpenter, once by tossing a 400-pound Coke machine at him. Carpenter's (and pooch Buster's) “dogged” search takes them to a small, eerie Florida townwhere the victims have been imprisoned. Bullets predictably fly when Carpenter's FBI friend, Ken Linderman, whose daughter has been abducted, pitches in to help. This installment grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until the last page. (Sept.)