cover image Aftershock


Chuck Scarborough. Crown Publishers, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-58014-1

Although New York City's WNBC-TV anchor Scarborough has followed the standard procedures in creating a disaster novel--the plot concerns a massive earthquake that strikes the Big Apple in 1994--his thriller never unsettles the reader's equilibrium. Scarborough has done thorough research, and he's assembled the requisite array of characters affected by the disaster. The nominal hero is earthquake expert Sam Thorpe; much of the story centers around the separate efforts of Thorpe and his semi-estranged actress wife to find and rescue their young son. Perhaps the most interesting character, however, is Thorpe's mother, an avid rock climber who puts her expertise to good use in the rubble of the leveled city. Other subplots deal with a quartet of AIDS patients who leave their beds to join the rescue effort, and a group (which includes the mayor's daughter) trapped in the subway. Mafia boss Domenico Rizzo's efforts to profit from the catastrophe and political battles between the president and the New York governor are meant to add depth, but are relayed in matter-of-fact and predictable fashion. Ultimately, Scarborough's general inability to build tension keeps Aftershock becalmed. (May)