Books by Zachary Alan Fox

CRADLE AND ALL by Zachary Alan Fox
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 1, 1999

An overblown suspenser about a madwoman stalking a thoroughly good woman in ways you wouldn't believe. Kate McDonald is married to a rising young deputy D.A. with whom she shares 3,500 square feet in upscale Brentwood, California, and leads the good life. Deservedly. Kate is a devoted social worker at demanding Midtown Memorial Hospital, a picture-perfect helpmate, and, above all, the very model of a modern mother to eight-month-old Alex. But suddenly the good life takes a nauseating turn, and Kate—bewildered, helpless—finds herself witnessing the piece-by-piece dismantling of her world. The process begins with the awful threat that comes scrolling across her computer screen one day: "Your baby is going to die——a message that disappears so fast she's not even sure she's seen it. But the appalling messages keep coming, as do the threatening phone calls. And then there's the thing with the rats. And the other thing with swine fever. And the herpes, the poison, the infidelity (her husband's), the conspiracy (her boss's). And on and on. Who's doing this to her? Who hates her enough? Why is everyone convinced she's lying? She has no answers. It's a particularly unkind cut when a quack of a psychologist diagnoses something called "Munchausen's syndrome by proxy"—meaning that in his view she's been making up stories because she's starved for her attention. So her marriage ends. She's threatened with arrest. She's fired. Alex is kidnaped. And even then the blows continue to rain on Job-like Kate while, for the reader, the suspension of disbelief gets harder and harder. Less would have been more for Fox (When the Wind Blows, 1998, etc.), a writer of the school of plot-till-you-drop. Read full book review >
WHEN THE WIND BLOWS by Zachary Alan Fox
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

A man's search for his biological parents leads to multiple murders by multiple murderers in this overheated, overlong thriller. Mark Ritter, stockbroker and single parent (his wife was killed in an auto accident) receives a bad-news phone call one night: his widowed mother has died. Back home to Dexter, South Dakota, goes Mark to bury her. In the process of closing up the Ritter family farmhouse, he comes upon a key that leads him to a safe-deposit box, definitely of the Pandora variety. In it, he discovers evidence that the Ritters were not his real parents, who seem to have come not from Dexter but from a town in Colorado by the name of Harmony. Forget stockbrokering. Mark, whose emotional range swings on an arc that includes sullen, petulant, and near- hysterical, is determined to find out who his parents are. And he has to know now. So off he goes again, with seven-year-old Lisa in tow. (Never mind school, either.) In Harmony, everybody lies to Mark, not so surprising, since Mark's approach to investigation is of the aggressive sort. Answer wrong, and you might get your nose punched. Nevertheless, Harmony—a misnomer if ever there was one—proves rife with wrong answers. And wrong people. There are brutal cops, greedy entrepreneurs, promiscuous babes, rich and powerful perverts, all with secret agendas. Mark continues to buttonhole everyone in the community, and dead bodies, as a result, become commonplace, though each appears to belong to a different murderer. When at last Mark tracks down his birth mother, she behaves in a way readers may find understandable. Flat characters, kitchen-sink plotting. And some of the writing is painfully inept—as this from a woman whose former husband has just fired a bullet into her chest: "We were married! Didn't that mean anything?" After Fox's well-received debut (All Fall Down, 1997), better was expected. ($150,000 ad/promo) Read full book review >
ALL FALL DOWN by Zachary Alan Fox
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 1997

A lone sociopath seizes a school bus carrying 27 handicapped children, and the world's eyes focus on a small town in the California desert for an edgy 48 hours. When Las Cruces wakes up to the fact that a busload of its most vulnerable kids is missing, the authorities, frantically assembling their meager resources, call in the FBI. Sergeant Ellen Camacho (one of two detectives on the local police force) is put in charge of the case by Chief Paul Whitehorse (her lover as well as boss). In addition to sorting out jurisdictional conflicts with the feds and the sheriff's department, Ellen (a single mother who worked three years as a Los Angeles cop) must deal with distraught parents and a pack of ravening journalists. Meantime, she and her colleagues are frustrated by the lack of immediate demands from the perpetrator—which is precisely what the deranged kidnapper, Lowell Alexander DeVries, intends. An above-suspicion resident of Las Cruces, he exults in the chaos his careful planning has created. Although under the gun of a de facto deadline because of the captive children's medical needs, law-enforcement agencies can do precious little but dance to the kidnapper's tune. Finally, the murderous DeVries (a pedophile with a host of imagined scores to settle) submits his ransom requirements: a small fortune in one- carat diamonds and used bills. Matt LaSalle, the FBI's vaultingly ambitious man on the scene, arranges for the transfer of the cash and stones, which DeVries insists must be delivered by Ellen (whose daughter he's also abducted). The distraught but resourceful investigator sets out on the roundabout route DeVries has mapped. Under cover of darkness, she's able to upset his timetable and force a violent confrontation in the Mojave's desolate foothills. An absorbing suspenser from newcomer Fox that makes especially vivid use of setting and of its countdown format. Read full book review >