Johnny Mays has the moral conscience of a selfish child in the frame of a plain-clothes cop. The city is his playground, the rest of us his toys. He likes to find out where we work, and where we live, and what will scare us most. And Johnny never had a toy he didn't break.
But Johnny starts a car chase, and he pushes it too far. Soon they're fishing for his body at the foot of a dam, and his partner Nick Frazier has been left behind. They were friends, once, a long time ago. Nick had hoped that he might save Johnny.
Johnny's last words still echo in Nick's mind: "I'm going to remember this," he said, a dark fire in his eyes. "I'm coming back for you."
Then the killings start. Killings of people Johnny didn't like. And Johnny's car is dredged up, empty.
An English detective has lost his mind and is plunging into madness as this engrossing and fast-reading thriller unfolds. Knowing that Johnny Mays's ``methods'' violate English law as well police policies, partner and boyhood friend Nick Frazier tries to bring him in line. But Mays is adamant that he is England's ``avenging angel,'' and he keeps filling his ``book'' with names of society's ``enemies.'' His paranoid delusions spur him to a vicious car chase that Frazier tries to stop, but his efforts just get him listed in the ``book''; Mays apparently dies in a crash. Having been saved by an unsuspecting samaritan, however, Mays embarks on a mission of vengeance that leaves no doubt that he is alive. Frazier searches for him ``down river,'' back where they grew up, and amid vividly hewn scenes of a coastal village, tries to rein in his far-gone pal and save a woman who had once played a part in each of their lives. The denouement, thanks to Gallagher's ( Oktober ) strong writing and excellent characterizations, is unforgettable.