1 May 2009 0 Comments

Review: Red Hot Hurwitz


Trust No One by Gregg Hurwitz
St. Martin’s Press. To be published 23 June

The key to a first-rate thriller is for the main character to come up against a dead end many times during the book. The reader, knowing the forces arrayed against our hero and desperate to save him from more danger, each time wills him to use this excuse to abandon his quest. Of course, readers wouldn’t care at these turning points if the hero wasn’t a well-formed character whose humanity has drawn us to him, and that’s the other important element in the genre. Naturally the hero doesn’t quit, and our author takes us into the last segment of the book where the plot unravels and the twists snap us upright in our chairs.

Gregg Hurwitz fulfills all these criteria with real style in “Trust No One,” his new novel. It’d be worth reading if only for the startling denouement in which the hero battles against powerful forces – the Secret Service among others. But the drive of the book comes from the scars of his destroyed family. By the end of the book Hurwitz has tied a message of redemption into the fast-paced action.

“Trust No One” begins with Nick Horrigan catapulted out of the quiet life he’s lived for years. His stepfather, a Secret Service agent, was killed when Nick was a teen. Nick blames himself. As part of a cover-up, he was forced by other agents to go on the run. He’s been lonely and guilt-ridden for a decade. Now the Secret Service arrives through his window… and he’s not lonely any more.

A man threatening to blow up a California nuclear facility hands a key to Horrigan before he dies. As Horrigan tries to figure out what the key is for and why the man gave it to him, he’s drawn into a mystery that leads right back to his stepfather’s killing and into the upper echelons of the US political system.

Readers might detect an element of the “family at risk” sub-genre that Harlan Coben has perfected. Hurwitz does it with all the skill of Coben, but with a twist. In his rendition, the family isn’t only in need of rescue — it’s the reason for all the risk in the first place.

“Trust No One” is Hurwitz’s ninth novel, coming two years after the excellent “The Crime Writer”. He also writes for Marvel comics and is a screenwriter. Once you’ve read all his novels and comics, you might be intrigued to try “A Tempest, A Birth and Death: Freud, Jung, and Shakespeare’s Pericles,” which he published in the Summer 2002 edition of “Sexuality and Culture” (Rutgers University). If that sounds like a departure for a writer of thrillers, remember that “Pericles” is the story of the Prince of Tyre, who’s on the run from assassins in ancient Phoenicia…

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