August 08, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

When struggling suspense novelist Nicholas Loeb visits a small police station near the Mexican border, he finds more inspiration than even his native Brooklyn could provide. A bizarre bank robbery pits Loeb as the amateur sleuth in his own thriller, stirring dreams of daytime talk-show appearances and implicating him in a bloody tangle of everyday desperados: a struggling single mom-cum-stripper and her castle-building ex-husband, a weathered police lieutenant, and an enterprising Russian robber-baron with Texas-size ambitions and the malapropisms of George W. Bush. Even though Dreams’ suspense-laden plot meanders at times, Abrahams pulls the strands together with his astute and witty psychological portraiture.

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