LAST OF THE DIXIE HEROES
With his diverse settings, quirky characters and intriguing story lines, Abrahams (Crying Wolf; A Perfect Crime; etc.) has set himself up as a master of engrossing, off-the-beaten-track suspense yarns. However, although his latest effort starts out promisingly, it runs out of steam just when it should be revving up to a climax. Though he doesn't realize it at first, Roy Hill's life in Atlanta is coming apart at the seams. His company has been taken over by a megacorporation (resulting in Roy's losing out on a promised promotion), he's divorced (with an 11-year-old son) and his ex-wife's new squeeze "doesn't even bother to get dressed in the morning" (he's a lumpy online trader). But when Roy becomes intrigued by the off-hours activities of one of his business colleagues—a Civil War reenactor—our hero seems to have found a comfortable niche. At first, Roy finds Gordo's hobby amusing ("harmless fun in funny clothes"), but the peace of 1863 life begins to look better and better and the boundaries between contemporary reality and historical playacting begin to blur with increasingly disturbing repercussions. It's clear from the outset that the Abrahams style is still in high gear—the deadpan humor, often expressed as wry one-liners; the trenchant observations on motivation and behavior. But the author gets bogged down in historical details and a myriad of vaguely developed characters, and readers may find that Roy's confusion becomes their own. This is a case where the journey (read: Roy's gradual dissolution) proves more enticing than the ultimate destination. (June)
Forecast:This won't be Abrahams's Appomattox, but it sure won't be his greatest triumph, either.