The most deeply wounded soul in Bellevue's psychiatric ER is not a patient but a nurse, Sharon Blautner, reeling from the deaths of her husband and son in a car wreck 18 monthsago. In Hall's follow-up to Nightmare Logic, Sharon's self-hatredshe was the driveris pulling her in dangerous directions by the time she meets Bill Kaiser. This darkly handsome man is in Bellevue for slitting his wrists and feigning self-castration after police confronted him during a break-in motivated by his passion to save some of New York's architectural treasures. Within days, Sharon has bonded with Bill, discovering that they both hate Manhattan developer Edward Mackinnon. Bill's loathing arises from Mackinnon's greedy participation in the destruction of majestic buildings; Sharon's from the fact that the developer once cheated her father, plunging him toward suicide. Sharon breaks a small hospital rule, resulting in Bill's spectacular escape and the loss of her job, kicking off a reign of terror in which Bill strikes hard at anyone who has harmed Sharon. Conscripted to help the FBI catch Bill, Sharon learns that he is the last of an old New York family whose ancestors include President McKinley's assassin and a noted gangster. By the end, Bill and Sharon's roles have become equally charged as they walk their separate razors' edges. Readers partial to New York's underground will revel in Bill's remarkable subterranean life, while architecture aficionados will sympathize with his reasons for committing havoc. Hall writes ruminatively in the early chapters to pave the way for the full-throttled mayhem that follows, but readers will be nailed from start to finish. 200,000 first printing; $300,000 ad/promo; paperback rights to Warner; simultaneous Time Warner audio. (May)
Wealthy entrepreneur Edward Mackinnon wants to purchase a prestigious New York City building and transform it into the first private, for-profit prison. The fact that it will displace hundreds of New York City's lower-middle-class citizens and destroy a community is not his concern. Enter Bill Kaiser, a brilliant, charming psychotic with his own idea of justice. After planting a bomb in one of the developer's apartments, Bill mutilates himself in an attempt to avoid arrest, which lands him in a psychiatric hospital. There he meets Sharon Blauntner, a psychiatric nurse who reveals to Bill her secrets and desire for vengeance. Bill incorporates Sharon into a repertoire of worthy causes and imagines a nonexistant relationship between them. Hale's novel is an enthralling, action-filled story of a killer's twisted conception of love and justice. Highly recommended for most libraries.Georgia Panos, Johnson Cty. Lib. System, Leawood, Kan.
Imagine Hannibal Lecter with a social conscience, and you'll have the germ of Hall's diabolically sharp new thriller.
Bill Kaiser is a man with a mission: He wants a Manhattan day-care center installed in the decaying Carnegie-Hayden building so much that he's willing to kill the project's opponents. Captured by the police after planting a bomb in sanctimonious Senator Arvin Redwell's high-rise, Bill fakes insanity convincingly enough to get committed for three days' observation in Bellevue, where he puts on such a winning (though demented) front that psychiatric nurse Sharon Blautner starts to open up to him. But Bill is determined to continue his campaign, so he manages to get the unwitting Sharon to smuggle in an innocuous-looking package that's filled with the goodies he needs to engineer a spectacular escape. Naturally, Sharon's accused of complicity in Bill's escape and fired from her job. Even worse, she sees that Bill's appointed himself her personal avenging angel, meting out condign justice to the randy surgeon who liked his sex rougher than she did and to the sniveling bureaucrat who fired her as he warms up for the coup de grace: going after Edward Mackinnon, the treacherous onetime partner who stole Sharon's father's business and drove him to suicidethe same Edward Mackinnon who just happens to be the megabucks developer who plans to turn Carnegie-Hayden into a maximum security prison. Nothing of Mackinnon's, it seems, is safe from Bill's high-tech wizardry and homespun moralizing, and as Bill scores triumph after triumph over this robber baron, Sharon, who's working with the FBI, finds herself wondering whose side she's really on.
The final payoff, though ingenious, isn't up to the rest of this exhilarating yarn from Hall (Nightmare Logic, not reviewed). But for most of its length, it really does manage to make its villain both scary and unsettlingly appealing.