ADVERSARY by Daniel Rhodes


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Rhodes' run-of-the-horror-mill sequel to his promising first novel, Next, After Lucifer (1987). Despite some tangled plotting, Rhodes' first outing featured vivid characters and clever use of setting (Provence). Not so this sequel, which finds the evil spirit of medieval Knight Templar Guilheim de Courdeval inhabiting the body of John McTell--hero of the first novel--and up to no good outside San Francisco, where he's settled in as an Aleister Crowley type complete with spooky mansion and assorted familiars--including a black cat. To keep his bargain with Evil--the ""Adversary"" of the title--that's made him the Donald Trump of the black-magic set, de Courdeval needs to ""feed"" sundry otherworld entities. The most nourishing fare? Betrayal of love. To obtain this unholy fodder, he lures four novitiates into his web, among them a coke-addicted hotshot; an icy society gal; a bookish young man; and, crucially, heroine Nicole Patrick, a lovelorn lawyer with a young son perfect for betrayal/blood-sacrifice. In fast-moving but hackneyed scenes of occult mumbo-jumbo or porno-violence (drugged sex, castration, necroerotica), de Courdeval subverts the four by investing them with minor occult powers--Nicole ""fascinates"" her Vietnam vet neighbor into loving her--to gain their servitude. Will Nicole succumb to power-lust and slay her son per de Courdeval's wish? As she makes her decision, a trio of de Courdeval-hunters left over from the first novel sniff out the wizard's trail and join forces with the lovestruck vet to face down the Knight Templar in an energetic if preordained finale. Rhodes' occasional spates of lickety-split, scary writing don't make up for his lackluster imaginings and his shrinking of the previously majestic de Courdeval into a cartoon baddie spouting occult inanities. At book's end, Rhodes leaves the door wide open for another sequel: better that he had bolted it shut.

Pub Date: Dec. 19th, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's