The franchise is in good hands. That's evident from Death's Door, another riveting thriller from Michael Slade, the pen name used by a revolving cast of writers. Here, it comprises the father/daughter team of Jay and Rebecca Clarke. Not a typical literary combination, but a winning one. In Death's Door the Slade team again focuses on Vancouver's Special X squad, headed by Chief Superintendent Robert DeClercq and colleague Zinc Chandler. Their adversaries are a motley crew that includes renegade plastic surgeons Dr. David Denning and Ryland Fletcher, porn king Wolfe Capp, the aptly named Undertaker, and depraved mastermind Mephisto. Potential victims include forensic pathologist Gill Macbeth, whose desire for cosmetic surgery will prove fatal unless Special X wins a desperate race against time.
The adrenalized action and clever plot twists rapidly ensnare the reader, who will also be entertained by detours into topics as diverse as the narcissistic quest for longevity, the obsessions of Alfred Hitchcock, and the myths surrounding mummies. The titles of other books in the popular series--Hangman, Primal Scream, Ghoul, and Cutthroat--indicate the graphic nature of Slade's forays into the twisted psyches of his villains. And some scenes in Death's Door may be too grisly for the faint-hearted reader to bear, though the lurid cover art should be sufficient warning. Fans of the franchise, however, will be left happily sated. --Kerry Doole