By People Staff
September 08, 1997 12:00 PM

by Keith Ablow

Dr. Frank Clevenger is a forensic psychiatrist called in to help track down a killer who mutilates victims in curious ways. Meanwhile, the tormented Clevenger is nursing his own frailties, using cocaine, gambling and booze.

The first portion of Denial, Keith Ablow’s gripping debut novel, is graphic and depressing, as Clevenger sinks further into his self-destructive habits. But the action picks up as he begins to claw his way back and zero in on the killer. His tender, redemptive relationship with a prostitute named Rachel allows the story to conclude on a hopeful note, and the ending—no hints allowed—is a doozy.

Ablow, a practicing psychiatrist who serves as an expert witness in trauma and violence cases, knows his stuff. The forensic details are convincing, and the writing is sharp, making Clevenger’s return trip from hell an undeniably uplifting story. (Pantheon, $22.95)