An AA horror story that turns the Twelve Steps upside down-and wallows in sluggish language out of H.P. Lovecraft-by the author of, among others, Zod Wallop (1995). Spencer's tale, though amusing, lacks the satirical bite that Twelve Steppers deserve. Still, the author builds quite a gothic tale from his villain's demented discourse about AA as both a gift and a curse. Jack Lowry, an American literature professor now on his third rehab, finds himself falling for fellow drunk Kerry Beckett, an 18-year-old half his age. When Jack enters Hurley Memorial detox in Alexandria, Virginia, and is driven with a crew of drunks to a nearby church for an AA meeting, he's met outside the church with demonstrators of a rival recovery group, called The Clear, which views AA as an abomination: its leaflets declare YOU ARE IN HELL and announce that The Unraveling is at hand. Candy-popping counselor Wesley Parks departs for a newer rehab, gets sidetracked into The Clear, and when he returns sits engrossed in deep conversation with his daily Jell-O. Then Kerry is kidnaped by Dorian Greenway, head guru of The Clear, who lives with his recovery coven in a hell-house whose carpets crawl with virtual snakes. Dorian professes rich ideas about alcoholism-it's an ancient curse spread by Lovecraftian monsters, one of which lives in the swimming pool in Dorian's basement and eats up AAs in a bloodspray. When Jack and fellow recovering alkie Ed Tilman sneak into the hell-manse to find Kerry, they come upon naked Clear recruits gathered about the swimming pool, with a bare Kerry apparently encased in a block of ice. And that's just for starters, before the death machines show up. The best scene comes early, with a monstrous toilet that swallows a drunk.