cover image PERIL


Thomas H. Cook, . . Bantam, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-553-80098-2

A kaleidoscopic array of viewpoints tumble and shift in this latest suspense thriller by Edgar Award–winner Cook (The Interrogation , etc.), until the facts settle into place and the full picture can be understood. The complex arrangement of voices and events works smoothly, bringing each of the protagonists more clearly into focus as the story progresses. As the novel begins, Sara Labriola is fleeing Tony, her husband of nine years. It's not that she doesn't love him, but Tony's overbearing mobster father, Leo, casts a long shadow over Sara and Tony's marriage. Around the same time, sad sack Mortimer, a broke gambler who owes Leo $15,000, learns he has three months to live. Desperate to discharge his debts and leave a little something for his wife before he dies, he agrees to help Vinnie Caruso, who's following orders from Leo to find Sara. Mortimer turns to the shadowy Stark, an obsessive, tightly wound man who excels at finding people. Stark is haunted by the fate of a woman he found years earlier, and he suspects that this case, too, is not about a loving husband looking for his spouse. Sara, meanwhile, has stumbled into a New York nightclub frequented by Mortimer, where she gets a job as a singer. Cleverly manipulated coincidence provides much of the driving force here, to excellent effect. Although most of the characters are cookie-cutter noir, neat turns of phrase and tight plotting make for an engaging read. (Feb. 3)