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|BOOKLIST ON "ALICE"|| |
|"If this were his first novel, we'd anoint him the next great crime novelist of the new century. But since we have more than 50 years of great work on which to judge him, we'll say instead that he's still at the top of his game."|| |
Alice Glendenning has been surviving, just barely. When her husband, Eddie, died in a boating accident nearly a year ago, she was left a widow with two very young children and a life insurance policy with a fly-by-night company that has delayed payment because the body was lost at sea. But things can always get worse, much worse.
The ransom call comes not long after her two kids don't return home on the bus after school. The instructions are simple: the money from the insurance policy or the kids are dead--plus the standard "Don't call the cops." Alice doesn't call the cops, but the baby-sitter does, and soon Alice is mired in a jurisdictional jihad among local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies of varying levels of competence. Alice is certain that only two people are determined to get her kids back safely: their mother and a Vietnam vet who ekes a living out of his artwork. The conclusion is heart stopping and heartbreaking but completely uncontrived in an America in which the promise of 30 seconds on CNN is as strong a lure as a million dollars.
McBain has been writing crime fiction through five decades (the 87th Precinct novels, the Matthew Hope series, and a dozen stand-alone works). He's always very good, usually excellent, and occasionally transcendent. If this were his first novel, we'd anoint him the next great crime novelist of the new century. But since we have more than 50 years of great work on which to judge him, we'll say instead that he's still at the top of his game.
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