cover image The House on the Hill

The House on the Hill

Judith Kelman. Crimeline, $6.99 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-553-29101-8

Kelman's ( Someone's Watching ) creepy suspense novel bears so many similarities to Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs that it's difficult not to make comparisons and find faults. The book opens as 11-year-old Abigail Eakins, weary of her mistreatment by a unnamed man whom her family trusts, runs away from her rural Vermont home. When she enters the yard of an ordinarily abandoned house, she notices its strangely lived-in appearance, turns to flee and is kidnapped. Enter parole officer Quinn Gallagher, a temperamental redhead assigned to blind parolee Eldon Weir. Weir has a rep for torturing and mutilating young girls that has never been proven in court, so he's under electronic surveillance in a specially designed house: the one where Abigail was abducted. As Abigail is subjected to a series of traps and illusions, it is unclear whether Weir is her captor. However, only Weir--speaking in riddles and innuendos--can illuminate his own criminal mind and lead Gallagher to the girl's rescue. Impetuous, hysterical women, brilliant, often twisted men and a step-family that seems to lack adequate concern for a missing child populate this chilling yet not particularly fresh crime story. (July)