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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

BACKFIRE is the second thriller featuring the intrepid Philadelphia police detective Patrick Paige, who first appeared in SKELETONS (1990). His antagonist is Bobby Radcliffe, a plausible young man who delights in manipulating, intimidating, and murdering the innocent.

When Paige sees the small body of one of Radcliffe’s victims, a petty shoplifter whom Radcliffe used in a robbery and then shot, he is so moved that he makes it a personal matter. He vows to find this killer.

However, Paige is racing against time. A second boy, who witnessed the murder of his friend but escaped, is hiding out, terrified of the murderer but afraid to go to the police. It is obviously essential for Paige to find this witness before the killer does. What Paige does not know is that yet another life depends on finding the culprit as soon as possible. Radcliffe is responsible for the disappearance of Kimberly Morbach, the daughter of State Senator James Morbach, whom he is holding drugged, until he can decide what to do with her.

The plot of BACKFIRE is complicated by the fact that the criminal and the detective are not the only players in the game. Radcliffe has been employed by the very people who are masterminding Morbach’s political career, and who fear their own exposure if he is found and identified. Meanwhile, the politician’s wife, the courageous Susan Morbach, is conducting her own search for her daughter. In the surprising climax of this superb novel of suspense, two lives are saved and others are changed forever.