A cop-vs.-psycho thriller from Washington Post reporter Valentine, whose first attempt is fried with jive dialogue, coincidences, and crescendo-ending chapters. When D.C. cops Hudlow (white/macho/street-smart) and Johnson (black/sensitive/ intellectual) investigate the Kadinsky murder, they routinely chat up all his neighbors; but after the medical examiner points out the unusual strangulation marks, they focus on the one who's a lute player—except that he's been set up. By whom? All signs point to strange neighbor Jeffrey Stanton, who accepts mar for someone called Jubal Symcox—the family name, it turns out, of Kadinsky's mom. All too soon, then, the cops hightail it to Alabama, where Jubal and the Symcox clan worship weird monoliths in 200-feet-deep caves—the site of Kadinsky's brother's disappearance (along with a D.C. highway fact-finding group) ten years ago. Down the hole go Hud and Mag, the redneck sheriff, a couple of speleologists; and after a massive shoot-out and some phobic reactions from the two cops, all ends are tied up—sort of. Heavy-handed, with every major clue practically highlighted in Day-Glo—and with a lot of overheated cliches along the way.
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