BACKFIRE by Eric Sauter


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 Psycho punk kidnaps politico's runaway daughter: a second case for Philadelphia cop Patrick Paige (Skeletons, 1990). The punk is a lowlife movie buff named Bobby Radcliff, and he's bad news: a guy who slips an extra 50 dollars (``why not?'') into the payoff envelopes of the two kids who helped him rob a liquor store moments before he shoots them. But one of them, Tim Cochran, gets away, and Bobby's out searching South Philly for him when he runs into Kimberly Morbach, who's just run out on State Senator James Morbach and his ineffectual wife Susan. Bobby buys her dinner, takes her home, and shoots her so full of dope that she takes a week to come down (and never does come down very far). In the meantime, as Paige is combing the alleys for Tim, who can identify Bobby, Bobby has had time to get in touch with Jacob Cross, Morbach's political crony, for whom he'd once shot an unofficial Candid Camera sex video, and amoral Cross begins to weigh his loyalties and his self-interest. Sauter's especially good at calibrating a wide range of depravity, and it's no surprise when the uncle Tim runs home to beats him and leaves him for dead, or when Susan Morbach tries to swipe the ransom money from her husband's undeclared slush fund, or when Senator Morbach turns out to be the slimiest operator of all. Though the plot is familiar, each nasty little revelation registers another jolt. Paige's second appearance is not quite as tense or gritty as Skeletons, but very few cop/psycho thrillers are. More, please.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1992
ISBN: 0-525-93483-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1992


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