Taking a break from his sturdy Jake Lomax, p.i., series (Death on the Rocks, 1987, etc.), Allegretto dreams up a blunt-edged...



Taking a break from his sturdy Jake Lomax, p.i., series (Death on the Rocks, 1987, etc.), Allegretto dreams up a blunt-edged and not very credible slice-and-dice thriller about a Colorado Springs family stalked by a homicidal maniac. Life seems perfect for heroine hair-stylist Sarah Whitaker, with Christmas just weeks away and a new big house to celebrate it in with young son Brian and new husband Alex. Shadows loom, though, when Alex learns that Christine Helstrum has escaped from her madhouse near Albany. An abusive more forced to give up her son--adopted by Alex and his first wife--Christine had killed the boy and Alex's wife, then been locked up--but not before swearing revenge on Alex. Alex suspects she's heading for Colorado: we know she is (""Her fingers on the steering wheel were as stiff and hard as the talons of a bird of prey""), and much of the crude appeal here consists of sharing Sarah's terror at Christine's cat-and-mouse games, as the maniac hides out in the family's nonworking basement furnace, sneaking out to steal food from the family's fridge, topple their Christmas tree, chop off the tail of Patches the cat, and so on. Sarah & Co. scout out the house, including the basement--never thoroughly exploring the furnace, though--and call in the cops; but Christine manages to outwit all pursuers, even stepping out to Sarah's hair salon, forcing her at letter-opener-point to cut and color Christine's hair. Finally, Christine pounces, slashes Alex, then vanishes again; when Sarah returns from Alex's hospital room, the lunatic strikes once more in a vigorous finale that sees Sarah and Brian crawling for their lives on the house's roof, Christine only steps behind, butcher knife flashing in her hand. Would you stay overnight in a house that you knew was a playpen for a raving homicidal lunatic? This dumb family does--and if you can put up with that, you might just enjoy Allegretto's corny but energetic storytelling.

Pub Date: April 1, 1990


Page Count: -

Publisher: Scribners

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1990