Eleven Hours

Paullina Simons, Author
Paullina Simons, Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-18091-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 320 pages - 978-0-312-96700-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 320 pages - 978-0-312-97255-4
Paperback - 299 pages - 978-0-00-655111-9
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Continuing to hone her style, Simons follows the logorrheic Tully and the pensive Red Leaves with a sparely written, blatantly shocking page-turner. Nine months pregnant with her third child, Desdemona (Didi) Wood basks in the adoration of her husband, Rich, national sales manager for a Dallas-based religious publisher. Didi's only sin is that she's a compulsive shopper, blowing her husband's hard-earned cash at a Dallas mall. A nondescript young man approaches Didi inside the mall, then follows her and forces her into his Ford minivan. Terrified, Didi wonders if God is punishing her for not going to church often enough or for being a shopaholic. She soon learns that the kidnapper, Lyle Luft, is enraged at God for allowing his wife and child to die. He wants a baby, and he doesn't care how he gets it. Rich deduces that his missing wife was abducted in the mall parking lot, but police are skeptical until tough black FBI officer Scott Somerville joins the chase. Simons's pacing is pulse-racing as she cuts from the pursuers to the pursued with nightmarish speed, evoking with economy and style Didi's terror, pain and sheer physical discomfort. As the road chase continues, news bulletins about Didi's abduction prompt Lyle into homicidal fury. Once he kills a cop, he has nothing left to lose. Meanwhile, Didi tries to persuade Lyle that he's ""acting against God,"" but it's not surprising that her sermon falls on deaf ears. Despite the blatant overlay of born-again religiosity, the momentum of the chase sustains the narrative, and Simons renders some final stomach-churning scenes of violence with unsparing detail. While the psychological explanation of Lyle's sociopathy is superficial, and Didi's transformation from suburban housewife to tough and cool avenger is less than plausible, the atmosphere of panic never abates until Simons brings her suspenseful tale to a close. Mystery Guild selection; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates; author tour. (June)
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