Jumper

Richard Barth, Author
Richard Barth, Author Minotaur Books $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-26608-0
Hardcover - 978-1-57490-343-0
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Angel City, one of the Southwest's largest amusement parks, is planning to open the most advanced roller coaster ever--the Jumper--in which two trains fly off their respective tracks and pass each other in midair before landing back on the rails. Given this exciting premise, it's too bad that the novel's mystery elements turn out to be perfunctory. Dr. Samuel Garvey, the Jumper's designer, agrees to help Rachel White, a National Transportation Safety Board official, investigate a fatal accident at the Coney Island Cyclone. A threatening note found at the scene, plus evidence of equipment tampering, indicates sabotage. The pair can't prevent a second fatal ""accident,"" but Rachel manages to avert a third roller-coaster disaster in a classic cliffhanger. On the personal side, Garvey is still grieving for his late wife, who died of a painkiller overdose, and playing devoted single dad to his young daughter, Sarah. The unattached Rachel soon provides some romantic diversion as well as surrogate mothering. Meanwhile, Garvey realizes that someone is also trying to sabotage the Jumper--someone within Angelus Corporation, the company building the innovative new roller coaster. Undaunted, Garvey gives the go-ahead for the first ride, on which Rachel and Sarah end up as passengers. Barth (Deadly Climate, etc.) offers some appealing characters and interesting background on roller coasters, but his villains and their motivations are only barely plausible. (Sept.)
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