THE ANIMAL HOUR by Andrew Klavan


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 Klavan's specialty is noir psychothrillers that offer heart- thumping roller-coaster rides with plenty of twists and turns. This time, though, the author of Don't Say a Word (1991), etc., jumps the tracks with an overwrought, jaggedly plotted tale of murder and madness. Several plotlines run a rapid course through the story to converge only at the end. The dominant, most compelling one is that of young Nancy Kincaid, who shows up for work on Halloween at her N.Y.C. law firm--to find that no one recognizes her. Nancy flees to the street, where she discovers a gun in her purse and hears voices saying that at 8:00 p.m., the ``Animal Hour,'' she must kill ``him.'' Cops chase her into a subway, where she stashes the gun; captured, she's taken to Bellevue, escapes, retrieves the gun, looks up her mom, who also doesn't know her, climbs onto a parapet, is attacked by a stone gargoyle that makes the noise ``chiggachiggachiggachigga,'' falls, gets up, and rushes into the West Village Halloween Parade looking for ``him''--who turns out to be one Oliver Perkins. Meanwhile, in chapters that slash into Nancy's tale, Oliver, a Village poet, learns that cops are hunting his brother, Zach, to have him explain the decapitated body left on his bed--the body of one Nancy Kincaid. Oliver frantically looks for Zach even as Zach, coming down from a mysterious drug and looking to even childhood scores with Oliver (very King-like italicized flashbacks here), sets Oliver up by decapitating another woman in a scene of gut-wrenching cruelty. Near book's end, Oliver and Zach, united, rush into the swirling parade, meeting Nancy and their fates. If you blink, you'll miss the reason--something about dirty pictures, blackmail, and drugs--that Klavan tags on to explain all this hysteria. A real trip--fast, scary, vertiginous, and confusing as hell. Best read with Dramamine. (Film Rights to Tri-Star)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-74010-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993


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