cover image Chaingang


Rex Miller. Pocket Books, $4.99 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-671-74847-0

Miller ( Slob ) has created a horror story that is at once macabre, inhuman, implausible and boring. There is no plot, only a premise. Daniel Edward Flowers Bunkowski, aka ``Chaingang,'' is a 500-pound genius serial killer who eats the hearts of his victims. A secret U.S. government unit sets him free to kill whomever he wants on the Missouri-Tennessee border in a bizarre experiment designed to develop an understanding of how mass murderers operate. Chaingang murders his way through several dozen local denizens, and, incredibly, there is not a whisper of this carnage outside of the designated killing fields. Miller's flawed premise is aggravated by flawed execution. Chaingang is introduced as such a monstrosity that he inevitably fails to live up to expectations and becomes a caricature of a serial killer--such as when he eats a steaming heart he has ripped from a victim and exclaims, ``The delicacy was unusually sweet and tender,'' and when he recalls from his computerlike memory a work about Massim mortuary practices. Unfortunately, the unintentionally comic effect serves only to undercut Miller's attempts to make Chaingang truly frightening. (Nov . )