In this entertaining first novel, Andy, a 20-something bookstore clerk and subway buff, bets Rolf, a fellow "trainspotter," that he can visit every stop on the London Underground in one day. That one day, however, happens to be the eve of his wedding, and he has bet his passport, his train tickets and his honeymoon that he can pull off this nigh-impossible caper. Hijinks ensue, although they're not quite as much fun as the concept seems to promise. Early on in his frantic journey, Andy is befriended by a tramp named Brian, who tags along, helping Andy strategize and take photos of each station sign. Meanwhile, Andy's sensible fiancée, Rachel, who is thoroughly sick of Andy's hobby, stews at home, further annoyed by anonymous calls from the creepy Rolf, who, it turns out, is secretly in love with Rachel and engineered the bet in order to sabotage the wedding. As the tension builds underground and above, Andy begins to catch glimpses of sinister, shadowy figures in empty stations and sees Rolf's machinations behind every delay and setback. A novel about a man riding the subway all day doesn't automatically offer much excitement, and to keep things moving, Lowe throws in some silly stylistic excursions—e.g., a chapter with the wordsruntogetherlikethis to evoke the feeling of a jam-packed train. The plot sometimes jolts and lurches, and Andy's hand-wringing angst over Rachel gets tiresome. Still, the narrative does eventually develop velocity, even though the ending isn't the satisfying train wreck readers may hope for. The movie-ready premise and Lowe's breezy, conversational style make for a light, enjoyable romp. (Oct.)
Forecast:Those who couldn't get enough of the movies Speed or Run Lola Run are the natural audience for this caper.