Picks and Pans Review: The Church of Dead Girls

updated 08/11/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/11/1997 01:00AM

by Stephen Dobyns

Beach Book of the Week

PICTURE OUR TOWN AS RETOLD BY Stephen King, and you'll have some idea of the tantalizingly sinister crime wave sweeping Aurelius, N.Y. One by one, a trio of teens vanishes from the sleepy 'burb as if they had ridden their bicycles over the hill into another dimension, while their snatcher taunts his pursuers with increasing audacity.

Dobyns, author of the bestselling Saratoga mystery series, hooks us from the first sentence. But without detracting from the potent suspense of his tale, he also has other matters to relate. As we view the fall and winter of Aurelius's discontent through the dispassionate eyes of Dobyns's narrator, a high school biology teacher, we glimpse the undercurrents of desire and corruption beneath the surface of small-town life. After the suspicion unleashed by the crimes shatters this civilized veneer, it becomes clear just how skillfully Dobyns has set us up for a horror story of a very different sort. (Metropolitan, $23)

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