The Blue Zone

The Blue Zone

4.0 162
by Andrew Gross

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From the number one New York Times bestselling coauthor of Judge & Jury and Lifeguard comes this electrifying solo debut, The Blue Zone.

Kate Raab's life seems almost perfect: her boyfriend, her job, her family . . . until her father runs into trouble with the law. His only recourse is to testify against his former accomplices in exchange for

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From the number one New York Times bestselling coauthor of Judge & Jury and Lifeguard comes this electrifying solo debut, The Blue Zone.

Kate Raab's life seems almost perfect: her boyfriend, her job, her family . . . until her father runs into trouble with the law. His only recourse is to testify against his former accomplices in exchange for his family's placement in the Witness Protection Program. But one of them gets cold feet. In a flash, everything Kate can count on is gone.

Now, a year later, her worst fears have happened: Her father has disappeared--into what the WITSEC agency calls "the blue zone"--and someone close to him is found brutally murdered. With her family under surveillance, the FBI untrustworthy, and her father's menacing "friends" circling with increasing intensity, Kate sets off to find her father--and uncover the secrets someone will kill to keep buried.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Having coauthored five bestsellers with James Patterson (Lifeguard, etc.), Gross makes a solo debut superior to his collaborative efforts, if short of the first thriller rank. His engaging heroine, Kate Raab, a medical researcher in the Bronx, is shocked when the Feds arrest her beloved gold trader father, Benjamin, and charge him with laundering money for a Colombian drug cartel. A hit team's attempt to kill the entire Raab family prompts all of them, except Kate, to start their lives anew in the witness protection program. Kate's choice, predictably, places her in continuing danger, even as she begins to suspect that her father's involvement with the narco traffickers was more deliberate and extensive than he's willing to admit. The secret revelations at the heart of the plot may strike some as a little far-fetched, and the details about the witness protection program fail to convince, but Gross shows sufficient talent for readers to want to see more from his pen alone. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

After coauthoring five thrillers with James Patterson (most recently, Judge & Jury), Gross makes his solo fiction debut with a case involving the Witness Protection Program. When the head of the Mercado drug cartel dies in Colombia, a long-simmering family feud reaches the boiling point in the United States. New York family man Benjamin Raab, a trader in gold, is arrested by the FBI and accused of being a middleman for the cartel. After he agrees to testify against a friend, he and his family—with the exception of his oldest daughter, Kate—are relocated by the government. When Benjamin suddenly flees the safety of the program and is blamed for the murder of his government contact, Kate wants to know who set him up and why. Was everything she knew about her father a lie? As her search for answers intensifies, she finds herself caught in a web of deception and betrayal, with her own life on the line. Gross offers much that will please: an intriguing premise, shocking twists, a gripping plot, and a sympathetic female lead who faces heartrending dilemmas as she grapples with the truth. Highly recommended for popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/07.]
—Ron Terpening

Kirkus Reviews
Digging too deep for family skeletons proves perilous for a young woman searching for her disappeared father. Gross's solo debut (he's previously collaborated with James Patterson; 2nd Chance, 2004, etc.) has a beguiling setup rooted in the clandestine mechanics of the Witness Protection Program, but its implausible plot will put off more skeptical readers. The book's likable hero is Kate Raab, a cancer researcher launching a promising career. While she also has a model boyfriend, a seemingly perfect doctor, her most discernible asset is a picture-perfect family comprised of her anxious Jewish mother, a pair of precocious siblings and a princely father who calls her "Pumpkin." It all comes crashing down when her father Benjamin, a wealthy Manhattan gold trader, is arrested for laundering money for a Colombia drug cartel led by Oscar Mercado. Benjamin cooperates with the case, and the family is secreted away under assumed identities, leaving Kate behind. Things go further awry when a colleague of Kate's is felled during an inexplicable drive-by shooting and the Rabb family's case worker is tortured to death. The slim leads in the case point towards Benjamin, who disappears into the titular Blue Zone, the FBI moniker indicating a blown cover. Soon, Kate is stalked by a menacing Colombia fixer and uncovers troubling duplicity on the part of her FBI handlers. With the body count rising, Kate hunts for her missing father, inadvertently unspooling a series of preposterous family revelations linking her loved ones to the Mercado clan. A sensationalistic thriller whose credibility is, by the end, strained to the snapping point.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Fiction Series
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Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Blue Zone, The

Chapter One

Gold was up 2 percent the morning Benjamin Raab's life began to fall apart.

He was leaning back at his desk, looking down on Forty-seventh Street, in the lavish comfort of his office high above the Avenue of the Americas, the phone crooked in his neck.

"I'm waiting, Raj. . . ."

Raab had a spot gold contract he was holding for two thousand pounds. Over a million dollars. The Indians were his biggest customers, one of the largest exporters of jewelry in the world. Two percent. Raab checked the Quotron screen. That was thirty thousand dollars. Before lunch.

"Raj, c'mon," Raab prodded. "My daughter's getting married this afternoon. I'd like to make it if I can. . . ."

"Katie's getting married?" The Indian seemed to be hurt. "Ben, you never said..."

"It's just an expression, Raj. If Kate was getting married, you'd be there. But, Raj, c'mon . . . we're talking gold here...not pastrami. It doesn't go bad."

This was what Raab did. He moved gold. He'd owned his own trading company near New York's diamond district for twenty years. Years ago he had started out buying inventory from the mom-and-pop jewelers who were going out of business. Now he supplied gold to half the dealers on the Street. As well as to some of the largest exporters of jewelry across the globe.

Everyone in the trade knew him. He could hardly grab a turkey club at the Gotham Deli down the street without one of the pushy, heavyset Hasids squeezing next to him in the booth with the news of some dazzling new stone they were peddling. (Though they always chided that as a Sephardi he wasn't even one of their own.) Or one of the young Puerto Rican runners who delivered the contracts, thanking him for the flowers he'd sent to their wedding. Or the Chinese, looking to hedge some dollars against a currency play. Or the Australians, tantalizing him with uncut blocks of industrial-quality stones.

I've been lucky, Raab always said. He had a wife who adored him, three beautiful children who made him proud. His house in Larchmont (a whole lot more than just a house) that overlooked the Long Island Sound, and the Ferrari 585, which Raab once raced at Lime Rock and had its own special place in the five-car garage. Not to mention the box at Yankee Stadium and the Knicks tickets, on the floor of the Garden, just behind the bench.

Betsy, his assistant for over twenty years, stepped in carrying a chef's salad on a plate along with a cloth napkin, Raab's best defense against his proclivity for leaving grease stains on his Hermès ties. She rolled her eyes. "Raji, still . . . ?"

Benjamin shrugged, drawing her eye to his notepad where he had already written down the outcome: $648.50. He knew that his buyer was going to take it. Raj always did. They'd been doing this little dance for years. But did he always have to play out the drama so long?

"Okay, my friend." The Indian buyer sighed at last in surrender. "We consider it a deal."

"Whew, Raj." Raab exhaled in mock relief. "The Financial Times is outside waiting on the exclusive."

The Indian laughed, too, and they closed out the deal: $648.50, just as he'd written down.

Betsy smiled..."He says that every time, doesn't he?" the handwritten contract for two glossy travel brochures that she placed next to his plate.

Raab tucked the napkin into the collar of his Thomas Pink striped shirt. "Fifteen years."

All one had to do was step into Raab's crowded office and it was impossible not to notice the walls and credenzas crammed with pictures of Sharon, his wife, and his children...Kate, the oldest, who had graduated from Brown; Emily, who was sixteen, and nationally ranked at squash; and Justin, two years younger...and all the fabulous family trips they'd taken over the years.

The villa in Tuscany. Kenya on safari. Skiing at Courchevel in the French Alps. Ben in his driver's suit with Richard Petty at the Porsche rally school.

And that's what he was doing over lunch, mapping out their next big trip...the best one yet. Machu Picchu. The Andes. Then on a fantastic walking tour of Patagonia. Their twenty-fifth anniversary was coming up. Patagonia had always been one of Sharon's dreams.

"My next life"...Betsy grinned as she shut the office door..."I'm making sure I come back as one of your kids."

"Next life," Raab called after her, "I am, too."

Suddenly a loud crash came from the outer office. At first Raab thought it was an explosion or a break-in. He thought about triggering the alarm. Sharp, unfamiliar voices were barking commands.

Betsy rushed back in, a look of panic on her face. A step behind, two men in suits and navy windbreakers pushed through the door.

"Benjamin Raab?"

"Yes . . ." He stood up and faced the tall, balding man who had addressed him, who seemed to be in charge. "You can't just barge in here like this. What the hell's going on . . . ?"

"What's going on, Mr. Raab"...the man tossed a folded document onto the desk..."is that we have a warrant from a federal judge for your arrest."

"Arrest . . . ?" Suddenly people in FBI jackets were everywhere. His staff was being rounded up and told to vacate. "What the hell for?"

"For money laundering, aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government," the agent read off. "How's that, Mr. Raab? The contents of this office are being impounded as material evidence in this case."


Before he could utter another word, the second agent, a young Hispanic, spun Raab around, forcing his arms roughly behind him, and slapped a set of handcuffs on his wrists, his whole office looking on.

"This is crazy!" Raab twisted, trying to look the agent in the face.

"Sure it is," the Hispanic agent chortled. He lifted the travel brochures out of Raab's hands. "Too bad." He winked, tossing them back onto the desk. "Seemed like one helluva trip."

Blue Zone, The. Copyright © by Andrew Gross. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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