cover image The Animal Hour

The Animal Hour

Andrew Klavan. Pocket Books, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-74010-8

Maneuvering the plot of his latest urban thriller with the irresistible skill of a three-card monte expert, Klavan leaves his mesmerized readers the winners. In New York City on Halloween morning, recent college graduate Nancy Kincaid arrives at the office where she works for an ambitious city pol. But her co-workers don't recognize her; she finds a gun in her purse and hears odd voices talking about a killing to take place that night, at 8 o'clock, the ``animal hour.'' She runs to a park, shoots a persistent panhandler, and evades the pursuing police in the tunnels of the subway. Meanwhile, we meet Oliver Perkins, an appealingly scruffy poet who is kind to old women and babies, and whose book of poems bears the title The Animal Hour. Oliver's brother, Zach, a photographer for Downunder magazine, has disappeared; fearing Zach may be back on drugs, Oliver looks for him in old haunts but finds only the viciously mutilated, decapitated corpse of a young woman. Nancy's increasing terrors--she escapes Bellevue and survives a drop from her parents' Gramercy Park apartment with skills she didn't know she had--are interwoven with Oliver's growing anxieties and his encounters with the NYPD (with the FBI behind them). A cross between Rod Serling and James Ellroy, Klavan ( Don't Say a Word ) spins a nonstop New York City horror tale whose 8 p.m. resolution, while leaving a few questions unanswered, satisfactorily caps the rapid-fire entertainment. BOMC and Time-Life Condensed Book Club selections; film rights to Tri-Star. (Apr.)