THE EDGE OF SLEEP by David Wiltse


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 Wiltse's studies of psychopathic killers have been getting more and more streamlined; this tale of a couple who kidnap and murder ten- year-old boys is the most uncomplicated and efficient yet. FBI agent John Becker, on ``medical extension'' since killing Roger Dyce in Prayer for the Dead (1991), is lured back into action by his one-time lover, Deputy Assistant Director Karen Crist. After spending a night with the photos of the six victims who've been snatched from field trips and shopping malls, beaten, and smothered weeks later--a vigil that has all of Wiltse's trademark weirdness--he gets on the trail of the kidnapper he dubs ``Lamont Cranston.'' But he'll never find Lamont in time to save the life of Bobby Reynolds-- the latest kidnap victim in suburban Connecticut--because Lamont is a team that doesn't fit the FBI profile: Dee, a frustrated maternal type who loves boys so much that she grabs them, and who has such high standards for their behavior that she insists on stringent discipline; and Ash, her big, dim sidekick, a killer whose bond with the victims is so deep that he's willing to kill them in order to save them further pain. While Becker--considerably more muffled than usual--and Karen pore over the evidence and fall back into bed, Dee takes Bobby to the Restawhile Motel, calls him ``Tommy,'' tickles his feet, makes him swear he loves her, and shows him off at a local McDonald's--even as the elderly proprietors of the Restawhile bicker about whether anything peculiar is going on in cabin 6. All this is unconscionable, because we know that Bobby's not going to be the last victim, since Karen has a ten-year-old son of her own.... Wiltse skillfully works a narrow margin of storytelling here. Even though there's surprisingly little narrative development, the suspense is merciless, stomach-churning.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1993
ISBN: 0-399-13880-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993


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