Curtis is the pen name for an English poet who, in this satisfying first novel, leavens a pulp-fiction premise--a professional rescuer of kidnap victims out to save a psychic snatched by the CIA--with strong characters, rich prose, and timely doses of sex and violence. The author introduces hero Simon Guerney in characteristic action as Guerney guns down two Sardinians raping the Frenchwoman they've kidnapped. Returning to his isolated English cottage, Guerney sits tight until his next job offer: a wealthy Italian hires him to retrieve his kidnapped son, David. Guerney flies to N.Y., where, after a brief sex romp with Rachel, a CIA-agent girlfriend, he joins David's mother, Soon the kidnappers call and direct turn to England, where they've taken David. Meanwhile, it's revealed that Rachel is in on the kidnapping, feeding info about Guerney to her co-conspirator CIA colleagues. In London, Guerney dreams psychic messages from David: visions of the house he's held in, and of Rachel's complicity. When Rachel shows up at his hotel, Guerney takes her to his cottage. There, in a shocking scene, he ties her naked to a tree during a blizzard until she talks, admitting that David's a top psychic who's been snatched because he refused to do a job for the CIA. As she speaks, her fellow CIA-ers storm the cottage, gunning for both her and Guerney. The two escape, joining forces. Meanwhile, a second psychic, sadistic beauty Paula Cole, flies to England to do the job that David, who's now been killed, refused--to cause a heart attack in a powerful left-wing politician. But unknown to her, a CIA hit man stalks her, ready to kill her when the job is done. With the help of a clever whore, Guerney and Rachel escape a CIA trap and, in an unexpected climax, both good and evil triumph. Curtis' subtle infusion of the occult only enriches this intelligent thriller's texture: brainy and brawny, an admirable debut.