Gritty, spare but rather empty horror yarn from the author of Dr. Adder, Farewell, Horizontal, Infernal Devices, etc. Vicious drug-dealer Aitch and his reluctant sidekick Charlie beat their erstwhile partner Mike, a doctor and drug addict, to a pulp, then throw him from a car in the high desert of eastern Oregon following an attempted double-cross. Brought, barely alive, to an abandoned spa resort by a concerned trucker, Mike suffers wild dreams of bodies splitting asunder, and of an ancient doctor waving a scalpel--who subsequently appears alive, bathing in a pool of the spa's sulfurous water. Mike too bathes and drinks, and is healed in body, indeed possessed of extraordinary strength. The old doctor, Nelder, tells him that the water is an ancient evil, somehow alive--and it likes Mike. Enthralled by the horrid dreams conferred by the water, Mike now attacks his girlfriend, Lindy, whom he phones for help before drinking the water, and the trucker's son, Doot, who has also helped him. He mutilates the hapless Lindy, breaks Nelder, revenges himself bloodily on Aitch and Mike, then threatens Doot--who, somehow, acquires the water's powers and rips Mike apart while himself remaining uncontaminated by the evil. Jeter can write, and his tightly controlled individual scenes succeed, often handsomely. But the overall picture--the slender plot, the repulsive yet uninteresting atrocities, uncertain character motivations, and the improbable desires of the sentient spa--doesn't add up. Gripping in patches, then, but the patches conceal a number of leaks.