A cop-vs.-psycho thriller from Washington Post reporter Valentine, whose first attempt is fried with jive dialogue, coincidences, and crescendo-ending chapters. When D.C. cops Hudlow (white/macho/street-smart) and Johnson (black/sensitive/ intellectual) investigate the Kadinsky murder, they routinely chat up all his neighbors; but after the medical examiner points out the unusual strangulation marks, they focus on the one who's a lute player--except that he's been set up. By whom? All signs point to strange neighbor Jeffrey Stanton, who accepts mar for someone called Jubal Symcox--the family name, it turns out, of Kadinsky's mom. All too soon, then, the cops hightail it to Alabama, where Jubal and the Symcox clan worship weird monoliths in 200-feet-deep caves--the site of Kadinsky's brother's disappearance (along with a D.C. highway fact-finding group) ten years ago. Down the hole go Hud and Mag, the redneck sheriff, a couple of speleologists; and after a massive shoot-out and some phobic reactions from the two cops, all ends are tied up--sort of. Heavy-handed, with every major clue practically highlighted in Day-Glo--and with a lot of overheated cliches along the way.