PATCHWORK by Carolyn Banks (Crown: $15.95; 256 pp.). Reading Carolyn Banks' murder mystery "Patchwork" is like stepping on a Ferris wheel and finding out you're on the roller coaster instead. Rachel, who makes patchwork quilts for a living, deduces that her son has murdered her ex-husband and that she's to be next. Then we meet her son--outraged that his mother abandoned him in a home for delinquents; he's on the road to find her. While these two characters make their inevitable way toward confrontation, we're sure that's all there is to this story. That's when Banks evades the inevitable, and the roller-coaster ending--a hallmark of her earlier thrillers--begins.
In Banks' hands, the most nightmarish of fears seem remarkably, terrifyingly natural. Take, for example, the scene is which the son is reading about mass murderer Ted Bundy; he turns to Rachel and says, "I'm like that." Both characters recognize some truth in what he says, but Banks doesn't say who is more frightened by it, the son or the mother.
Actually, Banks never says anything she doesn't have to. If anything, she errs in withholding information until too late, because by the middle of the novel you can start guessing how the story will conclude.