November 06, 1995 12:00 PM

by Les Standiford

Thriller of the Week

WHAT BETTER HERO-INVESTIGATOR than a Miami building contractor? He’s seen society’s shoddy underlayment and knows how fragile things are. In John Deal’s third and most thrilling case, his life flies apart like a cheap condo in a hurricane: His wife is institutionalized after a breakdown, and one of the couple’s best friends dies, apparently by her own hand. Digging into the suicide drags Deal into a bicoastal horror show of deception, Chinese pornographers and murder in the movies. He succeeds in his quest for truth, but the triumph comes with a crippling price. While hammering together his best plot yet, Standiford improves his acid eye for the American underbelly. This one is a very nifty deal indeed. (Harper Collins, $22)

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