An atrocious crime and its aftermath--seen from the victims' viewpoint and so graphically told that it's sometimes almost painful to read. In April 1974, in the basement of a stereo shop in Ogden, Utah, five people were forced to drink liquid drain cleaner and then shot in the head at point-blank range. Two of the victims were members of the Naisbitt family--mother Carol, who died, and 16-year-old son Cortney, who somehow survived. How Colt Naisbitt managed to pull through, and the emotional strain his family underwent during his year-long hospitalization, is the heart of Kinder's story. It helped that Cort's father Byron was a respected local physician. Simply by refusing to give up on his son, Byron managed to convince the specialists that he could be saved. It seemed a remote prospect. ""l couldn't believe that you could look like that and still be alive,"" said his sister. Kinder's detailed account of the day-to-day medical drama of bringing Cort back to life is gripping, as is his portrait of Cort's father's anguish. (""Every day you walk into that hospital you're reminded that your son is absolutely critical, absolutely suffering. . . you can't help him with it. . . and what he went through no one will ever know."") Though Kinder focuses primarily on the Naisbitt family, he also covers the apprehension (very quick work by the local police) and murder convictions of Dale Pierre and an accomplice, both enlisted men at a nearby air base. What sort of monster forces his victims to drink drain cleaner (""We're going to have a little cocktail party"") before shooting them? According to Kinder, who probes Pierre's Trinidad origins to no avail, just a flat-affect weirdo: ""It may come as a surprise but I was never the friendly type."" Eight years after the event: Cort is alive and functional, but still has trouble with intellectual tasks; Pierre and his accomplice, sentenced to death, linger in a limbo of legal appeals; and Byron Naisbitt is mad as hell (""I'm not asking for them to kill him. . . . But. . . if that's what the law says, then that bugger should die""). Meticulous research and solid reporting--though the crime-scene detail and some hospital scenes are not for the weak of stomach.