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Graham Masterton. Severn, $28.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8310-0

Marred by clumsy dialogue, implausible characters, and repetitive, morbid sex, Masterton’s derivative tale of a snowbound town and its insular inhabitants promises little and delivers less. Horror fans will immediately recognize the ever-cheerful Stepford cutouts and slightly demented children who form the “sleepy” community of Trinity, where Michael Spencer is recuperating from a devastating automobile accident that took his memories and killed his fiancée, Tasha. Released from the hospital, Michael moves in with Isobel Weston, a beautiful widow who provides him with tasty dinners and sexual favors. He is befuddled when he realizes that none of the townspeople leave tracks in the snow, and that the identity given to him by the hospital staff doesn’t ring true. As winter and the novel drag laboriously on, Michael continually fails to see what is painfully obvious, requiring a parade of supporting characters to spell it out repeatedly. Masterton (Garden of Evil) has written some unquestionably chilling tales, but here he jettisons plausible suspension of disbelief to stretch an interesting idea into a circuitous novel fatally undermined by the blandness of its cast. (Oct.)