Picks and Pans Review: Tropic of Night
Just when it looks as if detective fiction has plowed every gory, suspenseful possibility, along comes a novel that raises the stakes on the genre. Tropic of Night introduces the killer as enchanter, a conjurer schooled in African sorcery. This witch floats through the story literally unseen by his victims, whom he forces to see and hear only what he wants them to. It's a frightening concept executed with poetic vision and authority.
Jane, an anthropologist, is huddling in what she hopes is anonymity from her ex-husband DeWitt, an acclaimed black poet who plunged into sorcery while accompanying Jane on a working trip to Lagos. She must come out of seclusion to stop him from completing a forbidden ritual that will give him untold powers. As Jane and DeWitt spar in the realm of "m'doli," the unseen world, Gruber creates a hallucinatory atmosphere as unsettling as it is exciting, with potent scenes of witchery that weave a dark, lingering spell. (Morrow, $24.95)
BOTTOM LINE: Blockbuster Night