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Playwright, screenwriter and novelist McCarten elevates a deceptively simple premise to impressive dramatic heights in his second novel (after Spinners). The hook: a failing car dealer hopes to revive his business by sponsoring a contest in which contestants must keep their hands on a new Land Rover; the last person still in contact with the truck takes it home. Hopefuls include Tom Shrift, who is driven by a deep belief in his intellectual superiority and whose emotional detachment nears sociopathic levels, and Jess Podorowski, a mourning widow who endures daily verbal abuse as a parking warden and enters the contest to win a car big enough to fit a car seat for her handicapped daughter. Meanwhile, dealership owner Terry "Hatch" Back is going through an existential crisis and watches helplessly as his contest spins out of control. The endurance test becomes one of biblical proportions, with phases of violence, extreme weather, grief, absurdity and corruption. McCarten squeezes every bit of dramatic potential from the setup, giving readers a deeply satisfying narrative about dedication, connection and possibility. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.