cover image Final Victim

Final Victim

Stephen J. Cannell. William Morrow & Company, $25 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14775-4

The man who dreamed up such TV heroes as Mr. T., Hunter, Jim Rockford and the Commish now introduces maverick U.S. Customs agent John Lockwood. This hero of Cannell's boisterous second novel (after The Plan) is ""one of the best pound-for-pound bullshitters on the planet,"" who totes a gun with a two-inch barrel (although ""he'd never been able to hit anything with it, at least it didn't poke him when he sat""). Not unexpectedly, Lockwood's breezy style infuriates some important superiors, but readers will enjoy how he puts together a team (beautiful Ph.D. Karen Dawson and handsome computer whiz/convict Malavida Chacone) to track down Florida-based serial killer Leonard Land, he of the ""brilliant, twisted"" mind and ""fat, gluttonous body."" The story rambles at times and includes too many forced, nick-of-time heroics, some jarring noir pensees from Lockwood and an anomalous burst of piety from Karen (""Lead me out of this darkness. In the name of your Son, Jesus. Amen""). The bloody climax sees Malavida and Lockwood, both severely damaged, dragging themselves to the rescue of Karen, who's offered herself up as bait. It's a lightweight, generally enjoyable yarn, and if readers have seen it all before, well, they probably will again, sometime between dinner and the 11:00 news. Author tour. (July)