There've been 17 ice-pick victims already in the week before Thanksgivingthe death toll will rise past 50, mostly by less prosaic means, before the climax at the Rockefeller Center skating rinkwhen 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 wilda man about to be ice-picked by two cold-blooded teenagers slipped her a stash of capsules that have miraculously returned her to sanitybut then her audience is wild too: the genre's only dwarf, whose resumÇ (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.