Abe (Woman in the Dunes, The Box Man) has backed this book with a powerful abstract shape--the effect is often vivid and spooky--but that shape frequently slips from sight, and then the novel is merely busy. A man's wife is snatched from beside him in the middle of the night and taken away for no explainable reason. In the morning, the husband tracks her down to a hospital but can find no trace of her there. Then, however, he is furnished tapes by a shadowy investigator/doctor (a fellow who thinks he's a horse); and the husband is suddenly in over his head--in a surrealistic hospital microcosm complete with electronic bugging, sperm-bank entrepreneurs, test-tube babies, 13-year-old nymphomaniacs, and other assorted technological freakeries. Abe is a non-practicing doctor, so some of the medical sallies score accurately, as do the reflections on the moral vacuity of eavesdropping. And when the man eventually finds his wife, the author does bring together his multiple themes concerning sex and machinery and security and cybernetics. But, as in much of Abe's work, the initial basic idea, geometric and compelling, is far more interesting and far less confusing than the elaborate unfolding. This is a slippery and deft piece of work, but because it never unclenches, it never grabs.