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by Jeremiah Healy

Pocket Books, 1999 (359 pages)
ISBN: 0-671-00956-7

Reviewed by Rick McMahan

SPIRAL is the thirteenth book in the John Francis Cuddy series and the most riveting to date. Healy's writing is smooth, and natural which flows just as mundane as real life, so when out of nowhere comes the unexpected punch, it floors the reader as well as the veteran PI. It's like stepping off of a sidewalk and never seeing the truck that sideswipes you. John's loss is one that is random and there is no one to direct his anger at, and he quickly starts sliding toward that dark swirling abyss when fate steps in again in the form of a phone call. John Cuddy's former Vietnam commander pleads for Cuddy's help. The former commander is a man of wealth and power, but it has not been able to protect him and his family from a horrible loss. The man's young granddaughter was raped and murdered while at his house attending a party. Cuddy travels to Florida to aid his friend, and quickly finds out that the old man's family and friends are anything but stalwart companions. More like a cast of money-grubbers and egocentric people biding their time and trying to appease or fool the old man. Nothing is at it seems, and the deeper John Francis Cuddy plunges into the young girl's death the more dark it becomes. Finding the girl's killer also becomes a quest for John Cuddy to make sense of his own personal loss and maybe his own salvation. If you're a John Cuddy fan, you won't be disappointed by SPIRAL.

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