cover image Survivor

Survivor

Tabitha King, Author Dutton Books $24.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-525-94241-2

Departing from her usual literary territory of Nodd's Ridge, King (The Book of Reuben) moves onto a Maine campus to pit a strong yet vulnerable woman against her own demons as she struggles to extricate herself from a poisonous marriage. Talented photographer Kristin ""Kissy"" Mellors, 21, is poised to escape her hometown of Peltry, where she is finishing college, when a tragic accident freezes her in her tracks. Spotting two college girls in her headlights one night, Kissy slams on the breaks only to watch helplessly as the car behind her plows on and mows down the girls, killing one and leaving the other severely brain damaged. Traumatized, Kissy is compelled to photograph the comatose girl over and over. She finds herself inextricably bound to three men as well: Junior Clootie, a local hockey star who was the lover of the girl who died; James Houston, a wealthy premed student who was the drunk driver responsible for the accident; and Mike Burke, the first officer on the scene. Pregnant, Kissy marries Clootie (although Houston could be the father); but when his boozing and womanizing escalate into abusive behavior, she bails out, falling into a marriage with Burke. Rising from cop to assistant DA, the alcoholic Burke never loses his infatuation for Kissy, but theirs is a brutal, lifeless marriage. In a tough and gritty conclusion involving a breathtaking chase, Kissy starts making the right decisions after years of wrong choices, confronting Burke and regaining her own soul. King has created a compelling heroine in Kissy. Faltering yet determined to be brave, she captivates the reader just as a speeding car captivates the driver who desperately wants to get it under control. (Feb.)