DARK SPECTER by Michael Dibdin


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Most suspense novels are spoiled to a certain extent by summary, but Dibdin's unusual new mystery represents an extreme case in which the less you know in advance, the better. With that warning in mind: The crux of the story--a self-proclaimed messiah who claims to be the spiritual descendant of William Blake and envisions a millennial community whose initiation rites prescribe what look like random acts of violence--is familiar enough from recent fiction (and indeed recent headlines), though you've rarely seen a cult leader limned with such casual intensity. What's distinctive here is the disturbingly oblique approach made to the cult of the Son of Los: the senseless massacre of a suburban Washington family; a first-person anecdote about a routine drug score gone wrong; a police investigation seeking to link the Washington killings to similar executions in Evanston, Ill., Kansas City, and Atlanta; a bereaved father's grief-stricken reaction to his son's kidnapping and his wife's suicide. The clich‚ of multiple points of view, in the hands of a master like Dibdin (Dead Lagoon, 1995, etc.), brings the nasty implications of his plot startlingly to life while concealing its preposterously melodramatic underpinnings until almost the very end. A superior vintage pressed from the most unlikely grapes.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1996
ISBN: 0679767231
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Pantheon