Typical of Wilhelm's recent work ( Huysman's Pets ), this SF story takes the form of a mystery novel whose solution is, in human terms, unknowable. A malfunctioning alien space probe flickers in and out of existence from another dimension. All that Earthly eyes can see is a bizarre patterns: random outbreaks of madness and murder that occur in old, closed-up, wood-frame hotels. The loss of his wife and son compels Carson Danvers to go a monomaniacal crusade, burning down each of these host buildings, in hopes of ending the local manifestations. Alarmed insurance companies bring in retired arson investigator Charlie Meiklejohn to catch the criminal, but the sleuth soon teams up with his quarry to deal with the larger, deeper problem. Wilhelm is in top form as the thriller plot races along while characters teeter over an abyss of insanity and loss.