Markus Zusak, Author . Knopf $16.95 (357p) ISBN 978-0-375-83099-0

Australian cabdriver Ed Kennedy is 19, aimlessly lurching into adulthood when he thwarts a bank robbery in the hilarious opening scene of this gritty, gripping and ultimately romantic mystery. Ed's 15 minutes of fame set his life in a new direction: he begins receiving playing cards with cryptic clues, such as addresses or names unknown to him. Following these clues leads him to intervene in the lives of others. In the most chilling bit, a gun appears in his mailbox, which he assumes is intended for his use in dealing with a man who is brutalizing his wife. The assignments don't get more violent but they do get more personal, such as those involving Ed's mother, "one of those tough women you couldn't kill with an axe,"and his lovable misfit mates—Ritchie, Marv and Audrey. Zusak takes the subtleties of family dynamics, previously examined in his Fighting Ruben Wolfe and Getting the Girl , to a new level here. As the novel progresses, even Ed's unsympathetic parents take on three dimensions. The author artfully pulls readers through the many plot twists, building to a startling revelation. The metafictional ending may strike some readers as a shortcut, but it's sure to spark discussion, and readers will remember the characters long after they close the book. Even Ed's rank-smelling dog, The Doorman, is well-drawn. Graphic situations (both violent and sexual) mark this as a book for more sophisticated readers. Don't start this compulsively readable book without enough time to read it straight through to the final page. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
Show other formats
Open Ebook - 279 pages - 978-1-299-00667-6
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-1-909531-36-9
Library Binding - 368 pages - 978-0-375-93099-7
Compact Disc - 7 pages - 978-0-7393-3729-5
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7393-4844-4
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-34934-5
Prebound-Other - 357 pages - 978-1-4177-0023-3
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-307-43348-0
Prebound-Glued - 357 pages - 978-0-7569-7034-5
Paperback - 357 pages - 978-0-375-83667-1
Compact Disc - 1 pages - 978-0-7393-3692-2
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