How's this for a novel murder weapon? Somebody's killed Dr. Reeves Washington, chief of staff at the Mount Prairie Psychiatric Institute in Portland, Ore., by drugging one of his patients (a veteran and victim of post-traumatic stress disorder) with a wicked chemical that makes him go berserk and kill the good doctor during a therapy session. (Sound chancy? Maybe if the killer had drugged somebody who'd been kept waiting half an hour...) When irrepressible sculptor Adam McCleet asks who turned Kurt Schmidt into a killing machine, Mount Prairie comes alive with the sounds of suspects throwing themselves at him, from chainsaw sculptor Jonathan Noble, who's trying to evict the Institute from his land, to officious head nurse Fran Lavin, to Washington's heir apparent, Dr. Marion Grimhaur, to Raven Parducci, the lawyer who's defending everybody against everybody else's lawsuits. Less insistently bright than Adam's debut (Spare Parts, 1994), but less inventive too, without any more coherence or mystification to compensate. Even Adam's monstrously pushy sister Margot, who changes husbands like you change underwear, seems tentative.
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