Where's the author of Never Look Back and Blood of the Albatross, two slambang spy chillers that jolted like adrenaline? Not here, for sure: Pearson's newest, about a maniac sabotaging a giant enclosed shopping mall, is an overblown Sominex of a non-thriller. Pearson begins with a bang when a dynamite explosion rips up a locker room Of the Yankee Green Mall, located near Boston. But he soon brakes the action to introduce an unwieldly cast of stock characters that echoes past disaster novels and films from Airport to The Poseidon Adventure. At center stage is Toby Jacobs, the Mall's earnest young Director of Security, who investigates the explosion along with: stony-faced homicide dick Doug Shier (a good part for George Kennedy there), retired engineer Marty Rappaport (Martin Balsam incarnate), and sexy reporter Susan Lyme (Genevieve Bujold?). More trouble unfolds when Rappaport notes that the concrete in the Mall's new wing is weak; not only is there a maniac on the loose, but someone okayed substandard construction, endangering countless lives. Jacobs and crew scurry around trying to identify the two culprits, pursuing false leads that add not a whisper of suspense since Pearson's already let drop that the maniac is a stranger to all concerned: and as for the villain responsible for the bad concrete, isn't it obviously the smarmy general manager of the Mall, Peter Knorpp? In an effort to keep the reader from sagging like the Mall's concrete, Pearson stirs in a few subplotted diversions, including a long-separated couple Palling once again in love, a Guardian Angels-type vigilante leader, a rich nymphomaniac, and a protest by militant blacks. All characters converge as tire maniac holds them hostage in the dynamite-planted new wing during the thankfully exciting conclusion: a taste of the Pearson of old and of what the entire novel should have been--but isn't. Too, too obvious: and most disappointing.