An effectively moody and engrossing exercise in urban terror that fulfills the promise of Hunter's Blood Music (1993). George Riehle, a seemingly inoffensive liquor store clerk in Queens, is the sociopathic predator the media has dubbed The Chocolate Man. Using candy bars as bait, he has in less than two years kidnapped, sexually molested, and murdered seven adolescent boys. Two days before Christmas, the compulsive George feels the need to strike again. In the heat of the moment, however, he makes a consequential error, abducting a precocious nine-year-old girl named Emily Lookinland who had wandered away from her mother Lauren in Rego Park. Disoriented by the unexpected break in an established pattern, the wanted man does not quite know what to do with himself or his frightened but levelheaded captive. But as the NYPD task force created to apprehend The Chocolate Man swings into action and Laurie (a single mom) copes with a frenzied, intrusive press corps, George (an obsessive counter who talks to himself) and Emily form a relationship of sorts. Among other things, she learns that he has never wanted to hurt children, only mothers (because his all but ignored him). Acting on tips from observant or suspicious neighbors, the cops close in on George, but it is a distraught Laurie who forces the issue, locating him on her own. Events come to a violent conclusion during a high-speed chase down the Long Island Expressway on a snowy Christmas morning when Emily and her beloved mother must rely on one another for the gift of life. A first-rate tale of suspense set in an evocative working-class milieu, with a downany-street villain whose psychic torments visit untold horrors on the innocent.