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 Unholy intrigue swirls around a New Mexico convict with a reputation for collecting the body parts of his fellow inmates: a first novel from forensic researcher Lovett. Lucas Watson has done three years of his six-year sentence for killing a man in a barroom brawl. When his father, Duke, a powerful state senator, wants him reexamined for his parole hearing, his lawyer, Herb Burnett, gives the job to forensic psychiatrist Sylvia Strange. She soon finds out that Lucas is sociopathic, delusional, deeply paranoid (``My father wants me dead,'' he tells her--and unnervingly focuses on her). But is he el chacal, the man who's stashed away the arms and legs never recovered after a prison riot, the nose missing since last year, the severed ear and penis? While penitentiary investigator Rosie Sanchez's inquiry is in full swing, a turnkey confiscates Lucas's medicine pouch and finds a gruesome trophy inside, and Lucas, deprived of his fetish, goes berserk. With a little help from his equally deranged brother, Billy, he breaks out, but he's caught and returned just in time for a second riot that takes a terrible toll on the prison population and puts Sylvia, who just wants to get on with mourning her late lover and helping his son get over his death, on a collision course with Duke Watson. As she peers cautiously over the precipice of the Watsons' past, Sylvia realizes that Lucas may be the least dangerous of them all. Though it seems to have been assembled and cast out of discarded bits from a telemovie, Lovett's debut has some of the ragged appeal of true crime: too many heroes, too many villains, a hit-or-miss narrative that erupts into lurid and terrifying scenes without warning, and a series of grisly climaxes that awaken you from the nightmare without ever explaining what it all meant. (First printing of 50,000; Literary Guild selection; author tour)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-43559-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1995


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