Life is good for Mark Stevenson. His new crime novel is a runaway bestseller, and he’s about to marry his dream girl, Tracey Morgan, who has brains, beauty, and a big heart. What he should do when he’s contacted by the weirdo who calls himself —Scavenger——a man who claims he can identify the even more shadowy —Family Man——is brush it off. Yet he can’t, since his novel Dark Desire would not have existed without the Family Man. Ten years earlier this truly monstrous psychopath had gone on a ghastly spree, earning his media-fashioned moniker by slaughtering not just the odd victim here and there but entire families. Mark’s research into the crimes had been intensive, and his fictional version of actual events, faithful and complete, except for the last piece of the puzzle: the madman’s name. Now the Scavenger is offering to divulge, but only if indulged: Mark has to take a hand in a grotesque scavenger hunt, the final clue of which will lead him to his answer—that is, if he plays successfully. If he doesn’t . . . there—ll be consequences. Of course, as he traces the path laid out for him, neither Mark nor his audience is likely to forget that the Family Man is still out there. Savage (The Inheritance, 1998, etc.) provides lots of plot and ingenuity to burn, but it’s hard to care about a cast so full of stick figures too insubstantial to stand up in a stiff breeze.