OUT OF BODY by Thomas Baum

OUT OF BODY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Strong debut suspense novel set in Seattle. Did Denton Hake rob and rape Sandra Loyacano? He admits to the burglary, denies the rape, but is convicted of both anyway. Denton, however, is not your average burglar: He has a history of nonalcoholic blackouts, and for years has been having involuntary out-of-body episodes that reveal things he couldn't otherwise know. When he is granted parole, Denton moves in with his brother Elliot and is hired by Simon Lefcourt, a contractor with a soft spot for ex-cons. One day Denton is sent to the jewelry store that's run by Simon's daughter Gwen, a nymphomaniac who also has a special fondness for ex-cons. Business isn't good, Gwen tells Denton, and she can't keep up her insurance payments; then the store is burglarized. Denton immediately becomes a suspect. But Denton knows, though he can't prove, that Gwen robbed herself for the insurance on her inventory. Meanwhile, Denton sees lesbian shrink Randy Nelson, who believes his stories about out-of-body experiences. The OOBs began when Denton's father killed himself. Or did he? Denton supposedly discovered the body, although his recollection of events is hazy; there's also the possibility that Elliot had something to do with Dad's death. Things get even more tense between the brothers when Mimi, Elliot's alcoholic wife, threatens to leave him because his ``rapist'' brother lives over their garage. When Gwen is murdered, foggy Denton gets arrested, put on trial, and finally faces Death Row. What works here is the flat, immensely well-detailed storytelling, reminiscent of James M. Cain at his best, although the supernatural elements, at the same time, increasingly throw the plot off balance. Baum tries to have it both ways, heightening the supernatural while simultaneously offering a physical explanation for Denton's odd experiences, and he tries to float one too many subplots. Still, for much of its length a tough, original, and compelling debut, showing great promise. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 21st, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-15620-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997