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Pretty babysitter Lorna Meyers, 22, is raped and murdered near Central Park while caring for two-year-old Ricky Foster. But the police can find no sign of wee Ricky, nothing to suggest that he too was killed. Is he alive? Dead? Kidnapped by the rapist/murderer? Well, as the reader knows from the start, Ricky has been semi-benevolently nabbed and hidden away by a bonkers Central Park bag-lady--who thinks he's her own long-lost baby. (This hackneyed plot-idea--cf. Mary Higgins Clark and others--most recently appeared in Alix Kates Shulman's dreadful On the Stroll.) So, as Ricky's Upper East Side parents fret and bicker, the cops search in vain for the toddler and the psycho-killer. Meanwhile, the psycho himself--who is in fact Lorna Meyers' disturbed, rejected childhood-sweetheart--sets out to kill any witnesses who might be able to link him with the dead woman. . . including little Ricky (if the psycho can find him before the good guys do). And meanwhile, too, blandly heroic reporter Michael Marlowe, who has fallen in instant-love with Lorna's sister, does his own sleuthing--convinced that he can identify the psycho by investigating Lorna's past. ""Who was the boy who grew up with an insatiable lust for Lorna Meyers?"" Only a nasty priest knows--and he's not telling, because of his own shameful lust for the young girl. So, though Ricky is eventually found by the cops, the psycho remains on the loose till the bitter end. . . when he's finally nabbed after making one last attempt to kill little, hospitalized Ricky. Familiar psycho/kidnap elements dished up with borderline competence and minimal plausibility; for a classy, truly gripping variation on the child-kidnapping theme, see instead Ruth Rendell's The Tree of Hands (1984, p. 1163).

Pub Date: April 8th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's