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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345426274, Mass Market Paperback)Penzler Pick, February 2002: This thriller from the author of Hart's War is addictive. Analyst Dr. Frederick Starks has just turned 53 and, on his birthday, receives a letter informing him that he has ruined the letter-writer's life and now his own life is about to be ruined.
Starks must solve a riddle, he is told. He must find out whose life he ruined within two weeks. If he does not, he must kill himself. If he does not kill himself, then those nearest and dearest to him will be killed. The letter is signed, Rumpelstiltskin. At first Starks is dismissive--but he does call relatives to see that they are all right. Not all of them are. In fact Starks is convinced that the letter writer is deadly serious when he discovers how the birthday of his 14-year-old great-niece was ruined. He must now engage in the game or be responsible for the lives of others.
While he works frantically to try and unlock the past and find whose life he could possibly have ruined, Rumpelstiltskin is also busy. Within hours of receiving that first shattering letter, one of Dr. Starks's patients throws himself under a subway train, though Starks knows the patient was not suicidal.
When the police tell him that a couple and a homeless woman saw the man jump, Starks tries to find them. He finds only the homeless woman, who tells him that she was given money by the couple to tell what she witnessed. Starks is certain that Rumpelstiltskin must be one of the couple, but he's wrong. It's even more sinister than that, and when he meets the accomplices, he realizes that his adversary has been planning his revenge for years.
Soon, Starks's life is spiraling downward. There is nothing hidden from Rumpelstiltskin. His credit cards, his bank accounts, his patients, his homes in Manhattan and in Massachusetts, his reputation--nothing and no one is safe as Starks races against time as his world shrinks and his options run out. The clock is ticking as he hunts a ruthless psychopath who always seems to be one step ahead of him. As Starks tries to figure out what to do besides react to his life spinning out of control, he uses his training, his dwindling resources, and every weapon available to him to combat this relentless and deadly foe. --Otto Penzler
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:25 -0400)
Dr. Frederick Starks, a New York psychoanalyst on the brink of a much-needed vacation, is plunged into a deadly game of revenge where a mysterious tormentor waits in the darkness to destroy him.
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