WHERE SERPENTS LIE by T. Jefferson Parker


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Another intelligently written, well-researched genre clone from Parker (The Triggerman's Dance, 1996, etc.), whose skill at mimicking (and, at times, improving on) B-moviestyle formula fiction can be marvelous, when it isn't so annoyingly unoriginal. Terry Naughton is a manic, divorced police detective, head of Orange County's newly created Crimes Against Youth Division. An almost-but-not-quite-recovered drunk, Naughton is haunted by the death of his young son, a death he feels responsible for. In another part of sunny southern California, Michael Hypok, a blandly cordial video-camera operator for a dating service, is also a perversely obsessive child pornographer who's lately taken to climbing through bedroom windows and snatching young girls, photographing them for his own purposes, then returning them unharmed--except psychologically. Parker gives each of these familiar types a wicked spin: Naughton, who's having an affair with TV news journalist Donna Mason, is looking for a way out of his current live-in relationship with the ex-wife of his loud and boorish superior, Lieutenant Ishmael Jordan; and Hypok ("The Horridus"), who dreams of becoming reborn as a reptile, keeps a den of deadly pet snakes that would just love to devour one of his human captives. Meanwhile, the police procedures are impeccable, the writing blessedly lucid, offering fun facts about snakes, computerized image enhancement, and the righteous sleaze and suburban complacency that make Orange County a Day-Glo crucible of vice and good intentions. Parker's plotting, however, is blatantly derivative--in a Silence of the Lambs vein. There are also gross-outs for people who hate snakes, and a regrettably dumb climax (one of three) in which Hypok scampers about in a snakeskin body suit. A predictable stew whose superior ingredients taste like last week's leftovers.
Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-7868-6287-4
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1997


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