Cadnum (Ghostwright, 1992, etc.) tells a subtly shaded (and sometimes opaque) tale that flickers between illusion and reality, psychological and occult terror: Did Stratton Fields sell his soul for power--or are the deaths of his enemies and the triumph of his career due not to infernal intervention but to his own homicidal madness? Stratton, who narrates, is favored to win a competition to redesign Golden Gate Park: Though he's known as an architectural lightweight, his plans for the park are extraordinary; moreover, he's a scion of San Francisco's most prominent family. But Stratton learns from contest head--and old family friend--Blake Howard that the award will go to someone else because design-mogul Ty DeVere, who hates the old-moneyed Fieldses, has bribed Howard and rigged the award against Stratton. To Stratton's shock, however, the winner kills himself on TV, confessing the fix, and, the next day, Howard is found murdered--a crime the cops suspect Stratton of. Meanwhile, Stratton is haunted by an unseen presence that finally coalesces into a beautiful woman who tells him, ``Your enemies are ours,'' and then vanishes--an apparition soon followed by that of Stratton's dad, eight years dead, who warns his son to ``Accommodate Them.'' Soon after, DeVere is also dead, perhaps murdered, and Stratton's career skyrockets--but emotional disaster strikes when the architect's fiancÇe, Nona Lyle, is beaten into a coma: revenge wreaked upon Stratton by DeVere's mentor, allusive billionaire Peter Renman. Further blows follow--including revelations of familial madness and murder--as Stratton wrestles with the question of his sanity, while all along he grows in worldly and personal power--power that he can turn to good...or evil. Beautifully observed--typical of Cadnum--and effectively disturbing, though literal-minded readers will find the unresolved tightrope walk between phantasm and hallucination as frustrating as it is provocative.