Devastated by the killings of his two children a year ago, TV news reporter Joe Colby is reduced to disguising himself in a wig and mustache and attacking strangers on the street so that he can get arrested and thrown into jail along with his target, Boogie Brown, whose jury hung (11—1) in favor of conviction. But Joe and his buddies, the self-anointed Savages of his Crime Victims Support Group, aren—t the only victims stymied by the justice system. They’ve been upstaged by the Avengers, a murderous pair whose solution to legal loopholes is sublimely simple: execute the wives of the minimum-sentence judge and the fast-talking lawyer who’ve let so many criminals walk; leave their husbands notes reading “Now you know how it feels”; and send them videotapes of the killings. The brutal executions are only the kickoff of the Avengers’ vigilante campaign, which seems aimed at enacting the Savages’ hunger for revenge. But if Joe can’t compete with them for sheer firepower, he grabs his share of headlines through Crime and Punishment, his new TV series mercilessly exposing the flaws in the system and in the people who prop it up. Soon Joe’s offered a live interview with one of the Avengers; soon after that he’s being asked to contact them on behalf of a frustrated Savage; and before long, his own quest for vengeance is hopelessly entangled with the Avengers’ bloodlust. Forget “tense” and “edgy.” Except for an anticlimactic epilogue, McClister’s debut is a scorcher that’ll burn the tips off your fingers.