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British psychothriller in the vein of Campbell’s The Count of Eleven (1992) and Nazareth Hill (1997), with none of his more familiar occult horror and supernatural trimmings. Some nut is killing the happily marrieds around Windsor--perhaps someone insanely jealous of their joys, and clearly someone who has a way of tapping into their home life. Could it be the bland but persistent cab driver who seems unnaturally interested in the private lives of his fares? Or another of the eccentrics on the periphery of the community? The theme of endangered families allows Campbell to display one of his most delectable gifts: writing affectionately about marriage and children while unsettling the reader with subtle suggestions of imminent disaster. Here, he focuses on Geoff and Gail Davenport and their three-year-old son Paul. Geoff, an investigative TV journalist, has just published an exposÇ of mismanaged children’s homes when he begins receiving heavy-breathing wordless phone calls. He suspects that the figure on the other end is his long-vanished older half-brother Ben, a suspicion he reluctantly shares with Gail, who until now had not known of Ben’s existence. Vastly abused as a child, Ben ran off at 18 rather than enter the family firm, and he hasn’t been seen since. Now, Geoff suspects, Ben wants to revive their childhood game of hide-and-seek; this time out, the clues include a letter left under the bedroom rug of a house they were raised in. Geoff resists Ben’s attempts to get him to play, but Ben, of course, isn—t just playing—has in fact become a serial killer. As his crimes pile up, he earns the moniker The Kissing Bandit for the ingenious and gruesome way in which he murders couples. One knows far ahead that Ben’s big moment will come with his kidnap of baby Paul. Ghoulish? You bet, though clever Ben isn’t as fearsome as the savagely moronic Fancy family of Campbell’s 1996 novel, The One Safe Place.

Pub Date: June 11th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-86611-9
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998


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