cover image Homecoming


Matthew J. Costello. Berkley Publishing Group, $4.99 (298pp) ISBN 978-0-425-13503-7

Simon Farrell is the tormented hero of this taut page-turner. Taken hostage in Lebanon, he is kept blindfolded, regularly beaten and put in a cell with a hanging corpse, attended by guards whom he mentally labels ``Big Shoes'' and ``Garlic Breath.'' Farrell escapes, but his return home is far from happy. While he tries to reestablish his life with Lizbeth, his wife, to whom he has become a stranger, a sadistic character is on the loose--a serial killer with the cartoonish name of Donald Pick. Released from prison for his earlier crimes, Pick performs an elaborate mutilation on police consultant Dr. Lane Cubbage: ``He quickly mashed the testes in his hands until they collapsed into a hemorrhaging paste.'' Lieutenant Jack Friedman finally tracks down Pick--otherwise known as ``the Meatman''--but not before the killer has gone after Farrell and his wife and daughter, making a mockery of Farrell's homecoming. Costello ( Darkborn ) can write with power and pathos, and he gives his story a tragic twist, but the gratuitous cruelty brutalizes the reader. (Nov.)