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An unusual hero--a drug-addicted pharmacologist--carries Cohen's (coauthor, Mindbender, 1989 paperback) otherwise mundane snatch-and-search tale into the realm of fierce and memorable nightmare. ""Fifty milligrams of pentobarbital, and the town of Calverton turned into a blur of concrete""--but no matter how many drugs Adam Druit swallows, snorts, or shoots, he can't quite bury the pain of a broken life. Once a top pharmacologist and happy family man, his drug addiction had driven him into exile as a pharmacist in a small Rhode Island town--and his wife Casey and young daughter Sherry into another man's arms. When Sherry is kidnapped, however, Adam learns that the same drugs that have scourged his life can be potent weapons in the search for his daughter. By feeding a dangerous hallucinogen to a witness to the snatch, Adam digs out a thin description of the kidnapper; by slipping poison to a recalcitrant pawnshop owner and then to a seedy Hells Angel-like drag-dealer, he forces out clues about the kidnapper--identifying him as a serial killer of young girls who's been working his way north through New England. Finally tracking him to a tranquil town, Adam stalks the kidnapper stalking--and then grabbing--a young girl at the local public school; but all of his drug-taking takes its toll, and hallucinating Adam nearly kills the wrong man before he at last comers the kidnapper and his latest victim at a sleazy hotel. Sherry's not there, however, and when her body is later found, only Adam's going sober--in the novel's forced sunny ending--can begin to take away the new pain that's coiled around his heart. As a thriller, noteworthy mostly for its inventive drug-induced deductions; as an anti-drug morality tale, evocative as it re-creates a fevered drug-experience and leaves you with a hangover's bitter bite.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Atheneum