Just when you thought it was safe to ride roller coasters again, some greedy grinch goes and sabotages a few. Turns out there’s a conspiracy, ruthless and dastardly, extortion and murder no deterrent to the plotters. In the meantime, brilliant Dr. Sam Garvey, engineer, scientist, leading roller coaster light, is hard at work designing the marvelous Jumper—a heart-pumper of a ride featuring cars that will actually jump from track to track. He has no idea that the villainous Periclymenus is also designing—with evil intent. That is, until the day he hears from Rachel White of the National Transportation Safety Board with the terrible news: Periclymenus has struck. There’s been a roller coaster wreck at Coney Island’s Astroland, injuries, deaths, an arrogant coded note in which the mysterious Periclymenus claims credit. Soon, there’s another disaster, additional victims—another enigmatic note. Knowing that Periclymenus is a figure out of Greek mythology, the oldest son of Poseidon, is of limited help to Rachel and Sam. But then a banker friend of Sam’s makes the suggestion that at last paves the way toward cracking the case. Follow the money, he advises, and they do—to discover the clever, complex, very crooked stock-watering scheme perpetrated by the unlikeliest of suspects. They buckle down, they fall in love (merely a temporary distraction), and, now, no longer at sea, they hatch the plan that catches the no account son of Poseidon in his own net.
Barth, on leave from his Margaret Banton series (Deathics, 1993, etc.), succeeds only fitfully in this roller-coaster hiatus. More downs than ups.