Blue Crystal

Philip Lee Williams, Author
Philip Lee Williams, Author Grove Press $19.95 (277p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1499-0
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In this mechanical novel, Williams ( The Heart of a Distant Forest ) tells the brutal story of a couple held captive by five rednecks. The placid town of Sheppard, Ky., remains troubled by the deaths of 17 children in an accident that occurred in nearby Blue Crystal cave 30 years earlier. Sam Preston, 35, who inherited that cavern after his father's suicide, has become an expert spelunker by searching for the legendary blue crystal (read: red herring). A group of bad guys--two male ex-cons, one lumbering buffoon and two hillbilly women--have heard that Sam is rich. They arrive in a stolen car just as Sam and Mary Beth Price are about to consummate a lengthy courtship. All wind up playing cat-and-mouse in Sam's cave; as the criminals commit violent acts against their victims and each other, a thunderstorm threatens to flood the subterranean chambers. The cast comprises dominant men and docile, dim-witted women--it's no surprise that Mary Beth's shirt is shredded soon after the initial attack, allowing for several gratuitious references to her exposed body. For the rest, readers can expect hackneyed fare and a ``happy'' ending in the standard thriller mold. Literary Guild selection. (June)
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