John Scott Shepherd, Author . Rugged Land $24.95 (303p) ISBN 978-1-5456-7901-2

Screenwriter Shepherd's first novel tells the entertaining if somewhat jerry-built story of a heartless cad's quest for love and redemption. As a senior in high school, Henry Chase is a wimp, with family problems to boot. He's elated when the girl of his dreams agrees to be his prom date, but on prom night she dumps him, hardening his heart and his resolve to succeed. Ten years later, Henry has mercilessly clawed his way to the top of the New York financial world, earning himself the nickname "The Assassin." But on a trip back to his home state of Kansas, he has an attack of conscience in a Wichita hotel room and is rescued by a mysterious chambermaid, Sophie Reilly, who insists that he make a list of the people he has wronged. The two of them set off on a cross-country odyssey, over the course of which Henry must make amends and seek forgiveness. Few of his victims are eager to grant him absolution, and more than one attacks him with blunt objects. Nevertheless, Henry perseveres, and as the journey continues he becomes more and more attracted to Sophie, whom, we soon learn, has secrets of her own. Like a screenplay, the novel is very visual and dialogue-based. There are gaping holes in the plot, and readers' emotions are shamelessly manipulated. Still, Shepherd taps successfully into the universal fantasy of revisiting the past, and the book should twang the heartstrings of readers willing to play along. Author tour. (Apr. 1)

Forecast:All booksellers really need to know about this title is that screen rights have been sold to New Line Cinema, with Jim Carrey attached to star. The novel is as obvious as its jacket—which features a toilet with the seat up—but obvious in this case may equal big sales (particularly in paperback, provided the movie version pans out).

Reviewed on: 03/25/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Hardcover - 292 pages - 978-1-59071-001-2
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