Screenwriter Johansen (Edgar Award—winner for Murder 101 on cable TV) tries his hand at the thriller and comes up with aces. Ken Parker, 34, administers polygraph tests in Atlanta—but hates his job. Not everything else is so great, either. He has just paid off $140,000 in medical debt for his late father; his brother Bobby is laid up with a Gulf War disease; and he sees a girlfriend every week or two. So busy is he, says his running buddy and ex-wife Margot, taking care of everyone else, that he forgets to take care of himself. Then one day Myth Daniels, a woman attorney, induces him into her parlor to meet the accused man Burton Sabini, who’s about to take a polygraph test that will either get him off scot- free or put him in prison. Insisting that he’s innocent, he offers Ken $50,000 to train him to beat the polygraph. At first Ken says no, but then the VA invalidates payment for brother Bobby’s diagnostic tests, the repo man gets his Mustang, and an eviction notice hits his office door. Ken takes the job. Meanwhile, Carlos, who lost his own job because of Ken’s report on him, gives him a vicious working over—and then afterward is murdered. Sabini’s ex-boss, Herbert Decker, threatens him and wants the $12 million back that he thinks Sabini embezzled from his company. Amidst all this, Ken has 12 days to train Sabini—and succeeds: Sabini passes the test, and Myth throws Ken a lovebolt as reward. The trouble is, Sabini, who’s supposed to pay Ken the money for his work, is stabbed to death first. Ken’s only way out of the hole is to find the missing money that Sabini clearly stole. Where’s the $12 mill? One violent act follows another, including the torching of Ken’s office. Fiction newcomer Johansen plots like a string of firecrackers. Nothing fancy—but not a moment’s rest, either.