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 Baffled by his teenaged daughter Adele's truculent promiscuity, widowed Chicago newspaperman Guy Driscoll whisks her off to his birthplace, cozy Colson, Kansas--``a small town where you hoped she'd pick up some values and morals and maybe do something nice with her hair.'' If he'd known he was taking her into another of Epperson's Kansas gothics (Borderland, Nightmare, etc.), he might have saved the plane fare. Two problems are already simmering when Guy arrives. Local lawwoman Michael Bish is seething over her cop husband Oliver's shooting by his partner David Eulert. The shooting, which has left Oliver in a nine-month coma, has been written up as accidental, but Michael's convinced that golden-boy David was in a jealous rage when Oliver rejected his sexual advances. Now Michael's up against public opinion again for shooting mortician Vernon Diest, whom she claims had pulled a gun on her when she pulled him over for reckless driving; and Guy doesn't improve the situation when his column on the case leads to her suspension. Vernon himself is the second problem: brooding over his imagined rejection by Michael, he was indeed trying to kill her, and would've been tagged for the attempt if his deaf-mute stepsister Elma Voycheck hadn't spirited the gun away. Now enterprising Vernon, determined to pin the blame on Michael, decides to shoot Guy--but misses and kills Adele instead. And this is just the beginning of a wild plot that careens from unholy alliances that vanish in a whiff of cordite to a mortuary rape that blossoms into romance to multiple murder by three different perps as Colson's sad-sacks and sickos try every possible way of connecting with each other. A cartoon nightmare streaked with Epperson's trademark excess. Not so much scary as flat-out incredible.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1994
ISBN: 1-55611-382-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Donald Fine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1993


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