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Advertising director Charles Schine is just another New York commuter, regularly catching the 8.43 to work. But the day he misses his train is the day that changes his life. Catching the 9.05 instead, he can't help but be drawn by the sight of the person opposite. Charles has never cheated on his wife in eighteen years of marriage. But then Charles has never met anyone like Lucinda Harris before. Charming, beautiful and a seductively good listener, Charles finds himself instantly attracted. And though Lucinda is married too, it is immediately apparent that the feeling is mutual. Their journeys into work become lunch dates, which become cocktails and eventually lead to a rented room in a seedy hotel. They both know the risks they are taking, but not in their worst nightmares could they foresee what is to follow. Suddenly their temptation turns horrifically sour, and their illicit liaison becomes caught up in something bigger, more dangerous. Unable to talk to his partner or the police, Charles finds himself trapped in a world of dark conspiracy and psychological games. Somehow he's got to find a way to fight back, or his entire life will be spectacularly derailed for good...
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As is increasingly typical these days, James Siegel's Derailed comes garnished with praise from such bestselling practitioners of the thriller genre as Lee Child and James Patterson. So should we be swayed by this fact? The answer, in this case, is a resounding yes, as Siegel manages to match machine-tooled plotting with a storytelling ability that takes the reader instantly by the throat. Admittedly, he starts with a sure-fire premise--the ordinary man torn from a boring, quotidian existence and plunged into a nightmare. This scenario has served many artists well (think John Buchan's The 39 Steps or Hitchcock's North by Northwest), but this is one of the most assured treatments of the theme.
Charles Schine is on his way to work, conscious that his life moves along well-oiled tracks. But then he encounters the beautiful and enigmatic Lucinda Harris, and his association with her not only pulls apart the well-ordered fabric of his day-to-day routine, it threatens his very life. Charles has to learn (and very quickly) some basic survival tactics, not to mention the niceties of dealing with some very dangerous people. And it's in the latter area that Siegel really shines--his villains (from petty thugs to more urbane and dangerous éminences grises) are drawn with a very varied and imaginative skill, with street language rendered quite as plausibly as the exchanges involving top-level corruption.
The first-person narrative is a particularly nice touch, making it very easy for the reader to identify with the hapless Charles. Siegel is good, too, at the various set-pieces that maintain the interest, and as Charles is catapulted from one dangerous situation to another, we find ourselves forced to make exactly the same tough decisions as he does. Siegel, on the strength of Derailed, is a name to watch. --Barry ForshawReview:
What a neat, twisty well-written thriller! James Siegel has arrived in high style (James Patterson)
Intense and startling...a top-notch novel of suspense with unexpected twists that are shocking and satisfying...will keep readers hooked to the last page. With complex characters, tight plotting, and powerful writing, DERAILED is high-quality entertainment (Nelson DeMille)
It's been years since I read a book as gripping as DERAILED. Mesmerizing from the first chapter, the novel is full of whiplash twists, compelling characters and visceral and wrenching dramatic moments. The pace is relentless, the emotions powerfully real. Like only a few of our best thriller writers can do, Seigel left me limp and gasping. (James W. Hall)
Literally impossible to put down ... one of the best books I've read this year and I read it in December (Lee Child)
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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, 2003. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # mon0000173073
Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, 2003. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0316725366