James. Derailed. Warner. February 2003. c339p. ISBN 0-446-53158-8.
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.