There've been 17 ice-pick victims already in the week before Thanksgiving--the death toll will rise past 50, mostly by less prosaic means, before the climax at the Rockefeller Center skating rink--when Margaret Dutton, a.k.a. Mama Spit, comes to Mongo Frederickson begging for a shelter more upscale than her customary steam grate. The story Margaret tells is wild--a man about to be ice-picked by two cold-blooded teenagers slipped her a stash of capsules that have miraculously returned her to sanity--but then her audience is wild too: the genre's only dwarf, whose resumâ€š (circus star, college professor, karate expert) perfectly qualifies him to go up against the baddies at Rivercliff Hospital who mixed up that horrific psychotropic brew--the lethal side effects of which have kept it off the market--and who've now sent a pair of assassins to New York in chase of the dozen guinea-pig patients who escaped Rivercliff. Before the patients' meds run out on Christmas Eve, Mongo will have called in markers from his brother Garth, a friend at Interpol, and a rogue chemist in order to defeat Rivercliff, its allies at a know-nothing Swiss pharmaceutical firm, and (inevitably) the CIA. Mongo's twelfth adventure (An Incident at Bloodtide, 1993, etc.) is as outrageous, inventive, and incredible a slice of retro-intrigue as all the others.