THE NIGHTMARE FILE by Jack Livingston


Email this review


Case #3 for deaf New York shamus Joe Binney (A Piece of the Silence, Die Again Macready)--who again proves to be a strongly involving narrator-hero, even if he still hasn't found a plot worthy of his distinctive presence. Hired by Erie Listing to investigate the recent death of her husband Gene, Joe is skeptical at first. Why won't Erie believe that magazine writer Gene, overweight and boozy at 50, a nervous wreck since giving up smoking (on orders from his new boss), died of a heart attack in his sleep? But, after gathering all the medical data (including reports from Gene's shrink and from the exercise-facility he was forced to attend), Joe begins to suspect that Gene was indeed poisoned. Also, a possible motive emerges: Gene was secretly working on a story about sudden ""nightmare-deaths"" among Southeast Asian refugees--a story that may have connections to Washington corruption and big-money drug dealings. Indeed, soon a lot of people--including Gene's seductive niece Celia--seem to want to get their hands on Gene's ""nightmare file,"" even if the getting involves nasty violence. Eventually, after Celia is killed and Joe's secretary is kidnapped, there's a visceral showdown (in a Pennsylvania swamp) with the quasi-psychotic killer--whose identity and motivation are less than satisfying. But, despite an overlong narrative that's too heavy on the red herrings, this is forceful, vivid detective-fiction--with memorable characters (especially the wise old M.D. who treats Joe's agonizing ear-condition), firm action, and Joe's somber yet flavorsome delivery.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's