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by Paul Cody

Pub Date: May 25th, 1995
ISBN: 1-880909-30-8

 A first-novelist's biting, pitiless penetration of a nightmare: the 1963 abduction, drugging, and mental crippling of a nine-year-old boy as seen through the eyes of a variety of witnesses and those it touches--and has touched--indirectly over three decades. In the present, we hear the grating, pulsing ruminations of the institutionalized 30-ish man the abducted boy has become. ``He disappeared on a Friday afternoon in October,'' and now in the drifting, fractured mind of ``Ford'' (he goes by several names), visions recur of the yellow October leaves falling in his Boston suburb, of his babyhood, and of a little brother. Throughout his recitals, a ``Big Man''--he guesses it's his father--will open the car door again and again, the boy will smell ``beer and urine and gasoline,'' then remember light and dark and light again in Ohio or Missouri or Arizona. Other memories are contributed by his mother, who's exhausted by suffering; his brother, who will never have children; a teacher; a policeman; a waitress in Maine who served a man accompanied by a fevered, silent boy on a winter's night (``How would I know and what if I called?''); a doctor who sent the obviously abused child ``home'' (``All I could think about was going home [to] my own bed,'' the physician recalls shamefacedly); and those on the road and in prison who made brief, sometimes close, contact with Ford during his odyssey. Meanwhile, sounding loud and despairing and angry are the booze-soaked voices of the two faces of the Big Man--hapless, damned. Wary, fearful voices also sound from Everyman-and- woman, strangers all but snagged on the terrifying thought: Could it happen to mine? The variation of voices and diction gives the novel movement and pace. Certainly a riveting subject. And newcomer Cody insistently brings horror and loss thudding home. A raw, moving tale--and a parents' chiller.