cover image When the Wind Blows

When the Wind Blows

Zachary Alan Fox. Kensington Publishing Corporation, $22 (442pp) ISBN 978-1-57566-335-7

Readers may think they are seeing double this season, since both this novel and the new James Patterson (reviewed above) bear the same title. Although it opens with the same electric tension that crackled through the author's 1997 debut, All Fall Down, Fox's second thriller soon lapses into a parody of itself through an ungainly cast and a plot that's too long and needlessly complicated. When widower Mark Ritter, the 30-year-old father of seven-year-old Lisa, travels from his home in Seattle to backwater South Dakota to bury his mother and sell off the old homeplace, he finds evidence that he was secretly adopted after the mysterious cradle death of his parents' biological child. The search to find his own biological parents leads Mark to Harmony, Colo., a world-famous ski resort, where, with the help of local reporter Karen Paige, he begins to unravel the dark threads of his life tapestry. The quest takes him to California as he uncovers smoldering embers of lust, land feuds, pedophilia, murder and betrayal--then the killing begins anew. Despite a strong first half, Fox introduces too many--and often too cartoonish--characters. By the time the tedious tale reaches the slapstick shootout, the reader is too exasperated to care who lives or dies. $150,000 ad/promo. (Oct.)