A bachelor-party prank turns lethal in this gripping, overextended page-turner from veteran James (Ancient Mysteries, 1999, etc.).
Michael Harrison has always come up with inventive, malicious tricks to play on old friends who are about to be married. So a few days before Michael’s supposed to tie the knot himself with his stunning ex-secretary Ashley Harper, five old mates ply him with liquor, lock him in a borrowed coffin and bury him with only a breathing tube, a flashlight, a walkie-talkie, a bottle of Scotch and a skin magazine for company. Their plan to dig him up in two hours goes smash when a car accident sends one of them to the hospital in a coma and the other four to the morgue in body bags. What will become of Michael now? The good news is that the walkie-talkie his pals left near his gravesite is almost immediately discovered by a passerby; the bad news is that the finder is simple-minded Davey Wheeler, an encephalitis victim whose six-year-old mentality can’t grasp what the voice he’s hearing is begging him to do. Ashley’s distraught calls to the Sussex Police Force eventually get Det. Supt. Roy Grace, who’s evidently being groomed for a series, on the case. But for every bona-fide clue as to the whereabouts of the successful developer, Grace has to wade through lots of revelations that give him a bad feeling—the Cayman Islands account Michael shared with his partner Mark Warren, the false notes Grace picks up at the aborted wedding—that don’t seem to get him any closer to the truth. Then James, perhaps impatient with cranking up the suspense a millimeter at a time, tosses in several shocks that send his far-fetched nail-biter spiraling into the realm of the incredible.
Three-quarters of a great suspenser that doesn’t know when to quit.