Picks and Pans Review: The Episode
by Richard Pollak
In this zippy suspense novel, hero Daniel Cooper is a crusading reporter for a weekly muckraking magazine in New York. Then Cooper has an epileptic seizure—the first he has suffered since his teen years two decades ago. A murder has been committed in a rundown neighborhood building that a developer wants cleared of tenants at any cost. Cooper is found semiconscious by his girlfriend, a book editor, who sticks by him through a harrowing chase in search of the killer. This is a first novel by a top-flight journalist who was the founding editor of the journalism review MORE and a contributor to many magazines. It tells everything anyone could want to know about epilepsy, its dangers, its mysteries, treatment and literary history (Dostoyevsky was an epileptic and so was his character Prince Myshkin in The Idiot). The Episode is just as thorough in its description of the real estate wars in New York and the unsavory characters who wheel and deal, displacing the poor for yet another grand high-rent project. The climax, which is set in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, shows that the author knows all about that place too. The plot is just serviceable. It's the reporting on epilepsy and New York corruption that make The Episode such a compelling book. (New American Library, $16.95)
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