BONE by George C. Chesbro


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A welcome, though overheated, return to the straight thriller after Chesbro's long dalliance with the astral adventures of Mongo Frederickson (The Cold Smell of Sacred Stone) and Veil Kendry (Jungle of Steel and Stone). Chesbro's new hero is an amnesiac New York street-person suspected of having helped 28 other street-people to a better life by cutting off their heads. The death toll rises at the rate of about one corpse per 35 pages--including three members of a gang of young toughs killed in a tangential subplot--but the murders are almost rest points in a breathless and well-paced story that takes Bone from Bellevue, where he's challenged by Lieutenant Perry Lightning, to a Bowery shelter for the homeless, where he's attacked by a kid with a knife, threatened with a beating by the staff, and thrown back into the street, to the lace of Hook Mountain in Nyack, which Bone must scale to recover his memory, before reaching a sweaty-palmed but oddly perfunctory climax in the vast uncharted tunnel system beneath Manhattan. Although the book is technically a mystery, there's no detection, just Bone's gradual remembrance of the trauma that made him lose his memory. But there's enough disgusting detail--blood, filth, urine, and feces flow in abundance--for the most demanding connoisseur as Chesbro keeps reminding us how unpleasant life in the city's underground can be. With secondary characters who make the amnesiac hero seem three-dimensional, a transparently obvious murderer, and an outrageously hackneyed but expertly gauged series of climaxes, Chesbro's latest represents a triumph of narrative momentum over mystery, plausibility, style, and good taste.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1989
ISBN: 89296-292-5
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