For Nat and his new friends, Grace and Izzie Zorn, twin sisters as seductive as they are elusive, it was the perfect plan for some quick cash. A bold scheme with an admirable motive: to save the bright future of a deserving young man. And the victim, too, was deserving--an arrogant billionaire who would hardly notice a financial loss.
Edgar nominee Abrahams (Lights Out; A Perfect Crime) returns with a suspense novel built around kidnapping, extortion and youthful stupidity. Nat is the eager, sports-loving valedictorian of his small-town Colorado high school. With his $2,000 prize in an essay contest, he can just barely afford to enroll at Inverness, an elite New England college. There he meets Grace and Izzie Zorn, twins from a wealthy Manhattan family, who bring Nat home with them for the Christmas holiday and show him tall buildings, fine wines and decadent parties. Meanwhile, a steroid-pumped, speed-freak criminal named Freedy flees his job cleaning swimming pools in L.A. after a botched rape and assault. Heading home to Inverness to live off his perpetually stoned mother, he discovers his next source of income: technological appliances from the college. Freedy begins ripping them off and fencing them to a local hood, using a network of tunnels beneath the school to get in and out. Nearly stumbling into Freedy one night, Nat and the girls discover a hidden room full of old books and booze, which becomes their hideaway. When Nat's mother is fired from her job, Nat fears he'll have to drop out of Inverness, so the girls (both have slept with him by now) plot to stage their own kidnapping, earmarking the "ransom" for Nat's tuition. Mr. Zorn quickly thwarts their plan, but Freedy, who has been spying on Nat and the girls' secret meetings, hatches his own, far more dangerous, kidnapping scam. Now, when the situation is serious, Nat's vain pleas for help give the novel its name. Abrahams's plot moves too slowly to please readers looking for danger, verve and action, and his characters are too crudely drawn to succeed as examples of dissolute late-adolescent elites. With his foul language and his 'roid and meth-driven delusions of grandeur, Freedy makes for an interesting villain, but his rages can't sustain the book. Nat remains too naive for too long, his girlfriends are two-dimensional and a distracting subplot (involving Nat's philosophy professor, Mr. Zorn and Freedy's mother) is left unresolved. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 30, 2001
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Excerpt from Crying Wolf by Peter Abrahams
One should not avoid one's tests, although they are perhaps the most dangerous game one could play and are in the end tests which are taken before ourselves and before no other judge. (Beyond Good and Evil, section 41) -Introduction to the syllabus for Philosophy 322, Superman and Man: Nietzsche and Cobain (Professor Uzig) A rolled-up newspaper spun through the air, defining place. What kind of place The kind of place often described as leafy or even idyllic, where a boy on a bicycle still tossed the paper onto lawns and porches, sometimes over actual picket fences, where the newspaper still brought news.
"Nat," called a voice inside one of the houses, a simple 1950s roofed box, much like all the others.
"What is it, Mom "
"This couldn't be happening to a better boy," said Mrs. Smith, the guidance counselor at Clear Creek High. "Or should I say young man "
She raised her hand, pink and stubby. Was Mrs. Smith going to pinch his cheek Nat tried not to flinch; he owed her a lot. At the last second, her hand veered away and settled for an upper-arm squeeze instead.
"What a question!" said Miss Brown, the school principal, regarding Mrs. Smith with annoyance. "Young man, of course, as should be perfectly obvious to anyone." Mrs. Smith and Miss Brown were identical twin sisters, although easily distinguished: Miss Brown had hair the color of shiny pennies, Mrs. Smith's was gray; Mrs. Smith shook when she laughed, Miss Brown didn't shake, seldom laughed.
Hiss and pop: fatty juices dripped on open flames. Miss Brown turned to Nat's mom, who was laying another row of patties on the grill."And of all the young men I've encountered in my thirty-two years of education, some of them very fine young men indeed, this one is the-well, I won't say it, comparisons-"
"-being odious," said Mrs. Smith.
"I'll finish my own sentences, if it's all the same to you," said Miss Brown in a low voice, but not so low that Nat didn't hear.
Even though the comparison hadn't been made, to Nat's relief, and even though he suspected that the adage they'd used might be obscure to his mom, her face, already pink from the heat of midday and the glowing coals, went pinker still. "Thank you," she said, wiping aside a damp wisp of hair-almost as gray now as Mrs. Smith's, as Nat could see in the bright sunlight, despite her being so much younger-with the back of her wrist. Then she blinked, that single slow blink she always made when she was feeling shy but believed something was required from her anyway; at least, that was Nat's interpretation. People didn't understand how brave she was. "I'm obliged to the both of you," she said, "for getting him into such a place."