Siegel, James. Derailed. Warner. February 2003. c339p. ISBN 0-446-53158-8. $23.95. Fiction.

Ad executive Charles Schine’s descent into a nightmarish world of ex-cons, scam artists, and thugs couldn’t have begun more idyllically. A brief encounter on a commuter train with a seductive woman named Lucinda Harris leads to an afternoon tryst in a shabby Manhattan hotel. But just as the two lovers are about to leave, a man named Vasquez bursts into the room, beats up Charles, repeatedly rapes Lucinda, and robs them both. Unable to go to the police, since both are married, they find themselves vulnerable to blackmail. Soon, Charles is forced to risk his job, his marriage, and the health of his diabetic daughter in a battle of wits with a man who seems always one step ahead of him. Written with psychological insight and exceptional skill by an author whose debut (Epitaph) was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First Novel, this is a riveting story where the prose glides as effortlessly as Charles’s descent into hell. The immensely satisfying plot is marked by multidimensional characters, a highly original structure, an ever more gripping duel, and authentic details that range from prison life to a diabetic’s struggle for survival. Expect demand, as the publisher has planned a half-million dollar advertising campaign. Enthusiastically recommended for all public libraries.

LJ, 127, no. 20 (December 2002), 181

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