THE FIFTH ANGEL
Like Green's previous thriller, The Fourth Perimeter, this book opens with an engaging premise that becomes less credible as the novel unfolds. Jack Ruskin, a senior partner in a prominent New York law firm, is beside himself with rage; his 15-year-old daughter is semicatatonic after being raped by a repeat sex offender, and the criminal has gotten off with a minimal sentence. Jack decides to take the law into his own hands. He hunts down and kills a randomly selected sex offender in upstate New York. Driven by bloodlust, Jack then embarks on a series of similar vigilante executions as he travels around the country on business for the firm. He falls in love with Beth, an empathetic young counselor at his daughter's hospital, but there's a close call when Beth nearly catches him surfing the Web for likely victims. He offs another criminal while the he and Beth are on an idyllic getaway in the Adirondacks. As the bodies pile up, FBI agent Amanda Lee is assigned to track down Jack. Amanda has her own interest in the case—her partner was recently killed by a child abuser resisting arrest. The briskly paced thriller culminates in a revealing showdown when Amanda traps Jack on Long Island. The action is engaging, but between the lurid goings-on and the lurid prose ("His little girl was a shell with scars on her body and holes punched in her veins to feed her drugs"), the story verges on bad pulp. Fans of Green's earlier novels will be satisfied with this one, but some may wish he had brought a bit more craft and restraint to his compelling premise. Agent, Esther Newberg. (Feb. 18)
Forecast:Readers may recognize the multitasking Green from his jobs as Fox Sports commentator, USA Today columnist, CNN legal analyst and host of Comedy Central's Battlebots; major television and print advertising will further up his profile.
Release date: 02/01/2003