The Barnes & Noble Review
Momentum is the key to suspense, and James Siegel definitely has what it takes to unlock this tricky genre and draw readers into his riveting story from page one. Derailed starts with the story of an ordinary man, a teacher who divides his time between kids who think school is jail and real felons at Attica State Prison. His story gradually blends with one that's being shared by an anonymous inmate -- a compelling story of a mutual obsession that swiftly leads to disaster. It begins with a chance meeting on a commuter train between an advertising executive and a beautiful stockbroker -- both married to other people. They seek each other out, time after time, until an affair becomes inevitable. Then, just as they reach that idyllic peak, a brutal criminal shatters their lives. It's the perfect crime. The lovers are compelled by their situation to hide the fact that they are victims…even when their attacker moves from assault to blackmail. In Derailed, lies and small betrayals escalate inevitably to violence, murder, and more, often blurring the line between right and wrong. Sue Stone
Derailed sure derailed me for a couple of nights. What a neat, twisty, well-written thriller! James Siegel has arrived in high style.
The novel is a whopper of a story... This thriller was made for a long plane trip. Just keep your eyes on the page.
...an ingenious little machine that seizes you, intrigues you, titillates you, and finally cuts you loose...popular fiction at its slickest and should find a multitude of readers.
There's an extraordinary amount of hype attached to this thriller, from a rave letter in the galley by Warner head Laurence J. Kirshbaum to an announced ad/ promo campaign of $500,000 and enthusiastic blurbs from Christopher Reich and, notably, James Patterson. The buzz is warranted: this story of a middle-class professional whose life goes incredibly, criminally awry is one of the most exciting thrillers in years. And why is a blurb from James Patterson notable? Because Siegel (Epitaph) seems to have learned at his feet. Like Patterson, Siegel is an ad man (a creative director at BBDO; and he, like Patterson, has created TV spots for his book) who mixes first- and third-person narration and knows how to reduce a thriller to its essence. Protagonist Charles Schine is also a Manhattan ad man, married, with a diabetic teen daughter; troubles at home and at work lead him to fall in lust with a sexy younger woman he meets on his commuter train, and finally to a hotel assignation that goes terribly wrong when an armed man bursts in, beats Charles and rapes his date, then blackmails Charles for a staggering amount of money. Charles tries to fight the blackmail by hiring muscle, a disastrous move that gets him into potentially dire legal trouble, as does his agreeing to participate in a company scam in a desperate bid to make back some of the blackmail money-and all that just takes readers into the middle of this terrific yarn, which will blindside them again and again with shocking but plausible twists. With its clean prose, high-velocity plotting and just the right amount of emotional shading darkening its sharply drawn characters, this novel is the bomb. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Ad executive Charles Schine's descent into a nightmarish world of ex-cons, scam artists, and thugs couldn't have begun more idyllically. A brief encounter on a commuter train with a seductive woman named Lucinda Harris leads to an afternoon tryst in a shabby Manhattan hotel. But just as the two lovers are about to leave, a man named Vasquez bursts into the room, beats up Charles, repeatedly rapes Lucinda, and robs them both. Unable to go to the police, since both are married, they find themselves vulnerable to blackmail. Soon, Charles is forced to risk his job, his marriage, and the health of his diabetic daughter in a battle of wits with a man who seems always one step ahead of him. Written with psychological insight and exceptional skill by an author whose debut (Epitaph) was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First Novel, this is a riveting story in which the prose glides as effortlessly as Charles's descent into hell. The immensely satisfying plot is marked by multidimensional characters, a highly original structure, an ever more gripping duel, and authentic details that range from prison life to a diabetic's struggle for survival. Expect demand, as the publisher has planned a half-million-dollar advertising campaign. Enthusiastically recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/02.]-Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Ad exec Siegel (Epitaph, 2001) swings for the fences with this preposterous, compulsively readable story of a casual fling that flings its partners into the lower depths of hell. Charles Schine usually catches the 8:43 to Penn Station, but one day his daughter Anna's juvenile diabetes regimen slows him down, and he lands on the 9:05 without his commuter ticket or his money. When an obliging stranger with legs down to here offers to pay for him, it's lust at first sight, and soon Charles and Lucinda are sharing lunches, cocktails, and conversations about their boring marriages. But their tryst at a run-down hotel is turned into a nightmare by Raul Vasquez, who assaults them just as they're leaving, robs them at gunpoint, then forces Charles to watch as he assaults Lucinda again for hours on end. By the end of their ordeal, Charles is humbled, unmanned, and far too intimidated to go the police. He's also (first gaping plothole) all too ready to pay Vasquez whatever he asks, even raiding his daughter's savings in order to keep his family from finding out what daddy was up to in the city. When Vasquez ups his demands, Charles, evidently oblivious to the unrelated trouble he's stirring up at his advertising job (second hole), plots a retaliation that will deliver him still more firmly to the forces of darkness. Though every thrust and counterthrust to date has been deliciously predictable, Siegel seems to toss the one-false-move playbook out the window with Charles's determination to recover the money Vasquez extorted, and from this point on specific implausibilities are swallowed in a trail of roller-coaster sparks that lead, in the end, to the biggest con of all. Irresistible hokum writtenwith an obvious eye on Hollywood, where producers will have to decide whether to make Charles's tribulations believable or hope viewers, like lucky readers, will surrender themselves to its spell.