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 Tritely formulaic, tongue-in-cheek psychokiller first novel, infrequently redeemed by sarcastic winks at the questionable entanglements binding TV journalists to the purveyors of media-ready sensationalism. Calling himself Jeremiah II (Jerry, for short), an eminently lethal maniac believes that God has selected him to bring about a new, religiously inspired era. After issuing King-James-version pronouncements on the Internet, Jerry murders a child molester and two teenage bullies, then informs overpaid TV news twinkie Laura Delaney that he's about to do bigger and better things, and that she'll always be the first to know. The recently divorced Delaney calls the FBI, which sends the handsome and conveniently divorced agent Steve Wallace to her side. This leads to a series of predictable scenes in which Jerry teases Delaney with hints about his next victim, Wallace fails to stop him, and Delaney, now enjoying the best ratings of her career, informs her viewers of the dastardly deeds, which escalate to mass slaughterings of incarcerated criminals, fatuous Wall Streeters, nearly every American politician in the pocket of the tobacco lobby, and supporting characters who don't duck fast enough. Along the way, Smith points out that the biblical Jeremiah's twisted rants would have been safely forgotten if scribes (the equivalent of the news media back then) had not immortalized them. But his questionable revisionist theology collapses when Wallace discovers that Jerry, revealed as the demented product of fanatical neo-Nazis, plans to destroy Washington, D.C., with a Russian atomic bomb hidden in a van on Delaney's farm. Jerry escapes to return in a sequel, while Delaney and Wallace rush to a secret fallout shelter in West Virginia's swank Greenbrier Hotel. Even if Jerry's bomb doesn't blow, they ``needed a vacation, anyway.'' Paper-thin characterizations, deliberate howlers, and scenes approaching, but not quite becoming, parody. A fallen soufflÇ. (First printing of 75,000; $100,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-57036-380-3
Page count: 352pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1997


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