cover image Rage of Spirits

Rage of Spirits

Noel Hynd. Kensington Publishing Corporation, $21.95 (328pp) ISBN 978-1-57566-127-8

Credit Hynd (Cemetery of Angels, etc.) with degree-of-difficulty points. Combining the otherworldly side of his more recent novels with the political-thriller orientation of his earlier works, he mixes clairvoyance with a constitutional crisis. In the year 2003, President George Farley suddenly lapses into a coma for no apparent medical reason. The vice president, Gabriel Lang, about to assume the responsibilities of chief executive, is a flaky Californian (his Secret Service code name is ""Starbeam""). Lang sends his press attache, William Cochrane, on a mission to see if Farley's illness has psychic origins. After visiting a psychic from Lang's past, Cochrane's spiritual wild goose chase turns into a quest to track down a potential murderer when he meets a Georgia mathematician named Carl Einhorn, who claims to be causing Farley's illness via mind control. As the possibility of a psychic assassination becomes more plausible, Cochrane (whose resume conveniently includes a couple of nervous breakdowns to make readers wonder about his sanity) abandons his skepticism, delving deeper into his boss's past while investigating Einhorn. Events reach a crisis when Lang brings his New Age values to his political decisions, until Cochrane finally uses an avenging ghost from Lang's past to save the day. Cochrane is a well-drawn protagonist, and Hynd does his usual fine job of generating suspense. But the wild premise constantly strains the boundaries of credibility, particularly in chapters that present the first-person thoughts of the ghost. In the end, this awkward marriage of D.C. and the occult misses the mark as a political thriller and is merely middling as a supernatural one. (Feb.)