09/22/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT
by Susie Moloney
Page-Turner of the Week
FOUR YEARS INTO A DROUGHT THAT'S choking the life out of Goodlands, N.Dak., crop failures and foreclosures are joined by more sinister calamities. The latest, a series of fires, has neighbors looking askance at one another—when a tall, dark stranger shows up on the porch of banker Karen Grange.
Thompson Keatley is his name, and, as only Karen knows, rainmaking's his game. But before the handsome drifter can work his magic on Goodlands—and maybe on his lonely hostess too—he'll have to get to the bottom of the malevolent presence haunting the town, while outfoxing the suspicious and increasingly desperate residents.
Moloney gets her story of horror in the heartland off to a spellbinding start, but toward the end falls back on stock shock. Blame the devil, or else her movie deal; on the basis of the outline, prologue and three chapters, Tom Cruise
bought the rights for around $750,000. Rain Man II, anyone? (Delacorte, $23.95)