September 30, 1996 12:00 PM

by Colin Harrison

Porter Wren thinks he has seen it all. At least he has made it his business to try: As a celebrated columnist for a New York City tabloid, the 38-year-old combs the city primeval for bits of human flotsam that he can serve up with his special sauce—irony or pathos, take your pick—three times a week. Ignoring barriers of class and race, he fancies himself invulnerable to the suffering that fattens him—and is about to find out how grievously mistaken he is, in this bold, brilliant novel.

His comeuppance takes the form of Caroline Crowley, the stunning widow of a wunderkind filmmaker. Exactly what this cool siren wants from Wren isn’t initially clear, though she intimates it has something to do with solving the mystery of her husband’s death. Despite his model marriage, Wren is all too eager to go along for the ride—dangers be damned.

With the narrative drive of a hurtling subway express, Harrison, deputy editor of Harper’s magazine and author of two previous dark thrillers, plunges readers into a scary subterranean world in which the only comfort comes from the neon flashes of his prose. (Crown, $24)

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