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The spirit, and the prose style, of Mickey Spillane haunt this violent, trashy first thriller about a stolen-baby racket that explodes in more murders than you can shake a .45 at. Five minutes after delivering his neighbor Julia's baby, would-be scriptwriter Luke Byman is gunned down by an enormous red-haired man who leaves Julia's son Billy and another witness dead. Miraculously surviving, Julia and baby Genna take off for California--and while also-surviving Luke continues to look for ""Red's"" trail, he keeps getting knocked out and sent back to the hospital. Still, he manages between sabbaticals to trace the violence back to a six-year-old murder in Poughkeepsie--and to a wholesale racket in black-market babies that reaches from famous film star Anna O'Reilly to Poughkeepsie's notorious Cuban underworld and IRA terrorists. The twists and revelations of the plot defy belief, but you'll hardly notice the gaps amid nonstop action provided by high-speed chases; excruciatingly painful wounds; interludes for lurid romance (Luke literally can't get out of his hospital bed without getting tempted by sexy nurse Lola--or by his neighbor Gina or his old flame Amanda--and, yes, they're all involved); discussions of Luke's personal finances (he starts out broke and goes downhill from there); and the deaths of most of the supporting cast before the showdown back in the Catskills, with that ""tough bitch"" Sister Theresa and the nuns fronting for the baby-snatchers. Action and writing alike are so constantly overwrought that you'll be exhausted--and bored--long before the chain-sawing even starts.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1990
Publisher: Dutton