A formulaic thriller by Dantz (The Seventh Sleeper, 1991, etc.), salvaged by the complete evil of the novel's psychopathic killer. Dr. Anna Kane, a psychiatrist for the New York State Department of Corrections, has developed an electronic implant that will temporarily knock unconscious anyone contemplating violence. Hoping to make New York's jails more peaceful, she tests the implant on prisoners, among them John Chester Marlon, also known as the Subway Killer. Marlon murdered dozens of young women—perhaps far more, but the police can't find the corpses to prove it. Homicide Detective McRay, however, believes that Marlon, who used to be a city engineer in charge of tunnels, conduits, drains, and all other things underground, has stashed the bodies somewhere in the dark maze of his former kingdom. Kane and her patient play the expected psychiatric cat-and-mouse, but of course Marlon is a brilliant lunatic and not easily tricked into becoming angry, the emotion necessary to trigger the implant. Meanwhile, his escape from the prison hospital is essentially foreordained, as is the inability of McRay and the police to do more than stumble along in pursuit. Marlon abducts Kane and another test subject, taking them to his secret places beneath the city, and all moves along rather predictably—until the killer brings Kane to the Doll House, his subterranean gallery of horrors, secretly holding the corpses of more than three dozen men, women, and children. Marlon sees it as his ``work of art,'' an eerie, contemporary counterpart to the museum Vincent Price created in The House of Wax. Dantz's final chapters almost make you forget the flat characters and trite plotline. Starts off slight and obvious, but ends with a big, scary bang.

Pub Date: July 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-312-84583-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1995

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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