Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's said that great minds think alike; apparently great thriller writers do too. Here's the second outstanding novel in as many months to see a busload of schoolchildren kidnapped by maniacs. The first was Mary Willis Walker's Under the Beetle's Cellar (Forecasts, June 12); Deaver's is equally gripping, with the added twist that these kids are deaf. In rural Kansas, an act of kindness launches a nightmare when Mrs. Harstrawn, along with hearing-impaired apprentice teacher Melanie Charrol, stops her busload of deaf schoolgirls at a car wreck, only to be taken hostage by Lou Handy and two other stone-cold killers who've just escaped from prison. Pursued by a state trooper, the captors race with their prey to an abandoned slaughterhouse. There, Arthur Potter, the FBI's foremost hostage negotiator, sets up a command post-but the nightmare intensifies when Handy releases one girl, then shoots her in the back just as she reaches the agent. After further brutalities, Melanie decides to rescue her students herself, tricking the killers with sign language games to convey her plan to her charges. Meanwhile, pressure mounts on Potter as the media get pushy, the local FBI stonewalls, Kansas State hostage rescue units try an end run to grab the glory and an assistant attorney general butts in. Deaver (Praying for Sleep) brilliantly conveys the tensions and deceit of hostage negotiations; he also proves a champion of the deaf, offering poetic insight into their world. Throughout, heartbreakingly real characters keep the wildly swerving plot from going off-track, even during the multiple-whammy twists that bring the novel, Deaver's best to date, to its spectacular finish. 200,000 first printing; $200,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild featured alternate; film rights to Interscope Communications; simultaneous Penguin Audiobook; author tour. (Oct.)
A bus carrying eight deaf children and their teachers stops in the middle of the Kansas countryside, a car wreck directly ahead. Soon, three escaped killers rise out of the nearby cornfields and take children and teachers hostage. Pursued by the police, the convicts are forced to hole up in an abandoned slaughterhouse. There they threaten to shoot a child every hour until their demands are met. A 12-hour war of wits begins between FBI hostage expert Arthur Potter and the escapees' leader, Louis Jeremiah Handy. "I aim to get outta here. ...If it means I gotta shoot 'em dead as posts then that's the way it's gonna be," Handy boasts. Potter finds himself "in the middle of the week's media big bang," battling publicity-hungry politicians, trigger-happy cops, and the press as well as the unpredictable killers. This book by the best-selling author of Praying for Sleep (Viking, 1994) starts with a bang, and the tension never lets up. A topnotch thriller with an unexpected kicker at the end. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/95.]David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus
Eight students and two teachers from a school for the deaf are kidnapped on a remote Kansas highway by three murderous escaped convicts. They are held hostage in an abandoned slaughterhouse for 18 hours while the FBI's top negotiator, Arthur Potter, attempts to secure their release. The situation is made more difficult because the leader of the convicts is as brilliant in his way as Potter is in his. Meanwhile, reporters are crawling all over the security zone Potter has established, politicians are preening for the cameras, and rival law enforcement agencies are hatching their own rescue plots. Deaver has taken what could have been a routine plot and created a spine-tingling thriller by his judicious use of time, outstanding characterizations, and a plot twist near the end of the book that is as logical as it is startling. In Arthur Potter, he introduces a sympathetic and human hero, a complex, moralistic man who can only succeed at his craft by befriending the vilest criminals and then betraying them. Deaver has also succeeded in making his deaf characters vivid individuals, without a hint of patronizing.
From the Publisher
"Chilling." San Francisco Chronicle
"Gripping" Denver Post
"Deaver writes the types of thrillers that would challenge even the most enthusiastic roller-coaster rider." Cleveland Plain Dealer
What People are saying about this
From the Publisher
“A screaming hit.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Compelling suspense…a chilling web of madness and violence…an all-night page-turner.’”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Starts with a bang, and the tension never lets up. A top-notch thriller with an unexpected kicker at the end.”—Library Journal
“Heartbreakingly real characters…multiple-whammy twists…[a] spectacular finish. Deaver brilliantly conveys the tensions and deceit of hostage negotiations.”—Publishers Weekly
"Wonderful, riverting, vivid...rings with an atmosphere of haunting realism."