cover image Day of Reckoning

Day of Reckoning

John Katzenbach. Putnam Publishing Group, $19.95 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-399-13449-4

This is the third thriller by Katzenbach, praised for his In the Heat of the Summer and The Traveler , as well as a true-crime story, First Born . Harking back to 1968, the author describes an attempted bank robbery in California that costs the lives of five people and sends the gang leader, Olivia Barrow (``Tanya'') to prison. Two of her team, Megan and Duncan Richards, get clean away, however, and settle down in New England to live as ``establishment'' parents with their three children. When Tanya's sentence is completed 18 years later, she and two armed men arrive in the Richardses' town and kidnap their son Tommy and his grandfather. Cursing Megan and Duncan for deserting their comrades, Tanya reminds them that they will be charged in a capital crime if they appeal to the police. Instead, the parents and their teenaged daughters take the offensive; horror results. The novel serves as a cautionary tale, obviously based on the real SLA/Hearst case. But readers may wish for characters to care about, rather than symbols of mills grinding slowly and exceeding fine. (Mar.)