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 Versatile Monninger (Second Season, The Viper Tree, etc.) tries his hand at a serial killer loose on a college campus--with grisly, effective results. Okay, you've heard this one before. Mild-mannered George Denkin, obsessively associating sex and death ever since the childhood day he accidentally killed his hairdresser mother, has grown up, sort of, to the status of part-time student and admissions clerk at Colbin College in wintry New Hampshire. Over the summer he's kept the home fires burning by dressing up as a woman and taking a straightedged razor (a grooming aid now found exclusively in genre fiction) to another woman and a campus security officer; but now that school is back in session he's stalking freshperson Zelda Fitzgibbon, an aspiring vet who--still wrestling with the demons of her own childhood (a Halloween bogyman nobody believed)--is especially vulnerable to getting isolated and terrorized in her dormitory, in the woods, and in a barn where she works (shivery scenes every one). As Captain Len Barney and the remaining campus forces (including an avid canine) get a profile from convenient psychology prof Farley Simon, and as George marks time by torturing and scalping a hooker who's found a new use for Alka Seltzer and a fellow-boarder he's never cared for, two boys, Tony Corposaro and Jimmy Ryder, find a wooded secret cave furnished with scalps and corpses dating back as far as four years, and Jimmy begins to flip out. Yes, there'll be more gruesome killings before the curtain--and then a gratuitous, horrific coda cribbed from The Silence of the Lambs. Monninger sets up his Currier and Ives campus milieu and its denizens, from the prostitute to the college president, so efficiently and confidently that you're disappointed when he doesn't develop them; only Zelda and her nemesis stay in the memory. Still, the don't-look- behind-you plot is the genuine article--as is the unsparingly graphic detail.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 1-55611-307-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Donald Fine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1991


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