cover image Stalker


Theodore Taylor. Dutton Books, $17.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-55611-022-1

Taylor has won awards for his young adult fiction, and his first novel for adults is a gripping thriller that superficially resembles the movie Death Wish. But while that film featured an invincible latter-day Lone Ranger, Taylor's novel cleaves much closer to life; heroes and villains are not so clear-cut, and cliches turn into perceptive character insights. Marine colonel and Vietnam veteran Cole Hickel's grief over the rape and murder of his daughter Ellen turns into a Rambo-like compulsion to act. Ellen's kidnapper, a West German diplomat with a history of bizarre sexual practices, is protected by family wealth and diplomatic immunity. Incensed that the German cannot be touched by the courts, Cole takes the law into his own hands. He travels through northern Europe stalking his victim, much as the diplomat, a talented violin player, stalked Ellen at the beginning of the novel. But Cole soon has to deal with the blood of innocent people who become involved in his vendetta, a situation Taylor heightens with suspense. (May)