cover image PSYCHOPATH


Keith Russell Ablow, , read by the author. . Audio Renaissance, $25.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-55927-878-2

Ablow's latest thriller (after Compulsion) pits his series protagonist, Boston forensic psychiatrist Frank Clevenger, against Jonah Wrens, a spooky serial killer who also happens to be a psychiatrist. The result is a serviceable spin on the now familiar duel between secret-sharing adversaries. What lifts the novel above the endless line of Thomas Harris remakes is the author's ability to create unique, psychologically complex characters. Clevenger, a refreshingly scarred and flawed hero still recovering from his addictions to sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, is facing the additional daunting task of single-parenting a similarly addicted teenage ward. The homicidal Wren is an empathic genius as adept at understanding and curing disturbed children as he is at meeting, speed-reading and rending his hapless victims. Ablow has created full-bodied characters, but they deserve an audio interpretation beyond his capability. His voice has the proper timbre, and his straightforward delivery won't cause anyone to tune out. But a more experienced narrator could have provided Clevenger and company with the timing, tone and nuance that would have turned this merely acceptable adaptation into an exceptional audio. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's hardcover (Forecasts, June 30). (July)