Dallas native CRAIG CLEVENGER burrows deep into the sordid and paranoid realm of illicit recreational drugs with his second novel, DERMAPHORIA(MacAdam/Cage), a fictional crash course in the where and how of designer-drug manufactories. Eric Ashworth’s gruesome tale begins with his regaining consciousness cuffed and chained, covered with bandages, and knowing only one name: Desiree. The twisting narrative reveals clues that Ashworth might be the laboratory wizard behind a popular superhallucinogen (street name Skin—yech), his radical chemical experimentations the cause of the explosion that landed him in his present circumstances. Dermaphoria is sometimes cleverly obtuse and other times just muddleheaded, but it offers a full ration of contemporary grit for those who prefer their noir with a high intelligence quotient.
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