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31 Hours

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted July 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    a timely thriller

    At three in the morning in Manhattan, Carol abruptly wakes up with a premonition that her son Jonas is in trouble. She thinks about it and realizes he has not called her in several weeks. Carol goes back to feeling uneasy as only a mom can understand. The next day she tries his cell phone and visits his apartment, but neither proves fruitful. She visits his girlfriend Vic, who informs her Jonas has not returned her calls nor has she seen him lately, but she has no idea what she did to make him so angry that he cut off communication to her. Vic's response sends Carol into a deeper panic.

    Jonas Meitzner is the son of an atheist mother and a Jewish father Jake whose parents were Hasidic. His parents split when he was young, but that did not matter as he grew up faithless, but recently discovered Islam. His spiritual guide Masoud believes that American society needs change from within violently; Jonas is an expendable tool to do so.

    31 hours until he puts into place what he learned while secretly sequestered in Pakistan; 31 hours before he commits an act of terrorism on the trains; 31 hours before his letters reach his loved ones; 31 hours before he breaks many hearts including that of his mom.

    Mindful of the young Minneapolis Muslims that apparently has concerned the community and the Feds, 31 HOURS is a timely thriller as loved ones increasingly become concerned when they lose contact with Jonas. Fans will feel the anguish of his mom, the concern of his dad; the bewilderment of his girlfriend; the disassociation of guilt by his guide; and finally him, the focus of those who care about him in varying ways as he knows if one of them besides Masoud reaches him he will falter with his beliefs. Fans will be hooked into this one sitting as a nice young man walks a deadly final 31 hours unless a miracle intercedes.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2010

    Tense, terse and believable

    This is a plausible, well-written thriller that I could not put down and will haunt me for a while. All the best qualities of a good read wrapped into one!

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  • Posted November 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Compelling Page-Turner

    Carol wakes up, sure that her son, Jonas, is in trouble. He is grown and living on his own, but Carol still feels that tight maternal connection that she believes will always let her know if he needs her. She tries repeatedly to call him, but cannot connect with him. She calls his friends, but no one seems to have seen him lately. She goes to the apartment of his new girlfriend, Vic, but although she catches her coming home, Vic hasn't heard from him either. She is busy working on a new dance show and hasn't been home much herself, so hasn't thought much of Jonas's silence. Carol even contacts Jake, Jonas' father whom she has been divorced from for years to try to get his help. They try to reassure each other, but end up convincing each other that something serious is going on.

    Carol is right that Jonas is in trouble. Jonas is still in Manhattan, but has traveled far away in his mind. He is in a new apartment, a temporary waystation set up by Muslim extremists to house those recruits the night before they commit terrorist attacks. Jonas is there praying and purifying himself. Tomorrow morning he will strap on a vest filled with explosives and enter the subway to set it off. He doesn't want to die, but wants to make a statement that the violence worldwide must end. He is convinced that his sacrifice and the deaths of others will make his point.

    The reader meets other residents of New York City. There is Mara, Vic's little sister, who considers Jonas like a big brother. Mara is the only child left at home, which means she is left to deal with her parents' breakup and her mother's withdrawal as she grieves about it. Mara decides to ride the subway to her father's new apartment to try to talk him into coming home. We also meet Sonny, who makes his living in the subways, panhandling and getting by while homeless.

    Masha Hamilton has created an intriguing story. The tension rachets up with every page, as the reader realises that this is really happening, and wonders if Carol and Jake will find Jonas in time to stop him. The author is adept at setting the atmosphere of a busy city. Her real forte though is character development. Each character, no matter how large or small their part in the story, is fully developed to the point that one feels one could pick them out of a crowd. She makes us feel what each is feeling. It is impossible to put this book down without finding out what happens next. This book is recommended for all readers.

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  • Posted November 5, 2009

    A must-read, compelling thriller!

    "31 Hours" is a suspenseful and captivating novel chronicling the actions and thoughts of a deeply troubled young man, his family and others in the 31 hours leading up to his planned terrorist act. New Yorker, Jonas Meitzner, 21, is a sensitive, empathetic and vulnerable individual. A recent convert to Islam, he's isolated himself in an apartment, ritualistically preparing for his violent, lethal mission using the special training he received in Pakistan. He deeply believes the only way to change the unjust world is by instigating a moment of reckoning. Meanwhile, his mother's maternal instinct warns her something is terribly wrong and with the help of his worried girlfriend, sets out to find her son. Each chapter shares the innermost thoughts of his mother, girlfriend or one of the other linked characters, providing multiple viewpoints of this time frame.

    Ms. Hamilton has brilliantly crafted a complex, intriguing cast of characters, whose lives are skillfully woven together. Exceptionally well-written, she masterfully creates a sense of urgency that grabbed me on the first page and never let go. The exploration of the characters' thoughts was fascinating and gave me a greater understanding of their choices and actions. As I read, I found myself pondering Jonas' profound beliefs and the question raised about parental responsibility. I thoroughly enjoyed this truly outstanding book and I very highly recommend it.

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  • Posted August 12, 2009

    Provocative story about a missing son will haunt readers

    31 Hours by Masha Hamilton is a story that will haunt readers long after the covers are closed. Carol Meitzner wakes up suddenly one night with a mother's intuition that something is incredibly wrong with her twenty-one year old son, Jonas. She hasn't heard from him in over a week, which is unusual for the close pair, but this goes beyond the normal worries of a mother. For the next 31 hours, she will try to find him before something, she doesn't know what, goes irrevocably wrong. While Carol looks for Jonas, he is secreted in a small basement apartment preparing to take an action that will force the entire nation to rethink its violent nature. Hamilton's provocative book is a stunning read. Despite Jonas' terrible intentions, Hamilton has made him sympathetic to readers. He's not a brainwashed automaton or frenzied monster; his intent is clear (at least to him) and while he goes through periods of fear, he never considers backing out or changing his mind. It's Jonas' realism that makes him so frightening; he could be any college student who feels disenfranchised with the United States. Hamilton keeps the suspense drawn so tightly that there were entire chapters where I forgot to breathe, only catching a breath with the blank page at the end of a chapter. Brilliantly written, this is a book that won't let the reader go easily.

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