Voices invade a young woman’s head, compelling her to killWhen Nancy Kincaid comes into work, an unfamiliar woman tells her to leave. This is Nancy Kincaid’s office, the woman says, but you are not Nancy Kincaid. As Nancy protests, her memory grows fuzzy and her reason seems to slip away. None of her workmates recognize her, and she is distracted by a voice in her head that suggests she shoot them all. Ejected from her office, she collects herself in the park. A homeless man pesters her, mumbling that at eight o’clock—the animal hour—there is someone she has to kill. Over and over she tells him to leave, until she finds the pistol in her purse. She kills the bum and sets off a whirlwind of insane violence that will not stop until the animal hour comes to pass.
Maneuvering the plot of his latest urban thriller with the irresistible skill of a three-card monte expert, Klavan leaves his mesmerized readers the winners. In New York City on Halloween morning, recent college graduate Nancy Kincaid arrives at the office where she works for an ambitious city pol. But her co-workers don't recognize her; she finds a gun in her purse and hears odd voices talking about a killing to take place that night, at 8 o'clock, the ``animal hour.'' She runs to a park, shoots a persistent panhandler, and evades the pursuing police in the tunnels of the subway. Meanwhile, we meet Oliver Perkins, an appealingly scruffy poet who is kind to old women and babies, and whose book of poems bears the title The Animal Hour. Oliver's brother, Zach, a photographer for Downunder magazine, has disappeared; fearing Zach may be back on drugs, Oliver looks for him in old haunts but finds only the viciously mutilated, decapitated corpse of a young woman. Nancy's increasing terrors--she escapes Bellevue and survives a drop from her parents' Gramercy Park apartment with skills she didn't know she had--are interwoven with Oliver's growing anxieties and his encounters with the NYPD (with the FBI behind them). A cross between Rod Serling and James Ellroy, Klavan ( Don't Say a Word ) spins a nonstop New York City horror tale whose 8 p.m. resolution, while leaving a few questions unanswered, satisfactorily caps the rapid-fire entertainment. BOMC and Time-Life Condensed Book Club selections; film rights to Tri-Star.