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Troubleby Jesse Kellerman
Synopses & Reviews
Jesse Kellerman's debut thriller wowed the critics. His latest sets the bar even higher.
Young, idealistic, and overworked, Jonah is living the lonely life of a medical student in New York City when he accidentally stumbles across a murder in progress: a woman, being stabbed to death in the middle of the sidewalk. Without thinking, he rushes in to protect her — inadvertently killing her attacker in the process. Thrust into the media spotlight, crushed by guilt, Jonah quickly learns that heroism isn't all it's cracked up to be. He receives a shower of unwanted attention — and hostility — from his superiors. The district attorney wants to interview him. The family of the dead man wants revenge. Everything is further upended when the woman whose life he saved shows up at his apartment. What begins as a thank-you drink turns into a wildly passionate love affair. As their relationship deepens, however, Jonah realizes that she isn't quite the woman she appears to be. His nightmare has only begun, and the price of kindness will turn out to be higher than he could have imagined.
Expertly crafted and chillingly suspenseful, Trouble is a heart-stopper: proof positive that Jesse Kellerman has joined the "first ranks of mystery and suspense writers" (Forbes).
"Kellerman, the son of bestsellers Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, shows that his impressive debut, Sunstroke, was no fluke with this gripping psychological page-turner that echoes the best of Hitchcock. Jonah Stem, a young medical resident at St. Agatha's, a midtown Manhattan teaching hospital, heroically intervenes when he encounters an attractive woman desperately fleeing a knife-wielding assailant early one morning on a street near Times Square. After Stem kills the man in self-defense, he enjoys a brief celebrity, but his life soon becomes complicated when the woman he rescued, Eve Gones, seeks him out and the two begin a frenzied affair. Taken aback by Gones's masochism, Stem attempts to end the relationship, but soon finds himself stalked relentlessly. Kellerman artfully conveys Stem's descent into near madness, making the step-by-step degradation of a decent man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time plausible and chilling. Author tour. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The next time you hear someone screaming for help, run away, away, away as fast as your little legs will take you. This may not seem a particularly courageous or decent thing to do. But do it anyway. If you stick around and lend a hand, you may end up like Jonah Stem, the spectacularly unlucky protagonist of 'Trouble,' by mystery/thriller writer Jesse Kellerman. (And yes, if you're keeping score at... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) home, Kellerman is the son of mystery/thriller writers Jonathan and Faye Kellerman. Crime, it seems, is in his genes.) One night, Stem, a dutiful, good-hearted third-year med student in Manhattan, hears a dark-alley scream for help and rushes to find a beautiful woman crawling away from a psychotic, knife-wielding assailant. Jonah tries to calm this depraved soul, but after a clumsy tussle, the attacker is dead from his own knife and Jonah is a New York tabloid hero: 'Superdoc Battles Sicko W/Knife.' Of course, all this takes place in the book's first 40 pages, and with 300 or so more to go, you don't need to be a detective to figure out that Kellerman has something else up his sleeve for young Jonah. You, clever reader, would be right. No good deed goes unpunished, the cynical saying goes, and yet few good deeds have ever been met with quite as much punishment as that meted out to 'Superdoc.' In short order, he becomes romantically involved with Eve Gones, the woman whose life he saved. And in even shorter order, he realizes that Eve Gones is a real piece of work: delirious, devilish, dastardly, dangerous. The most vengeful, hateful terrors you could imagine would be child's play to her. She's a deeply troubled sadomasochist whom you wouldn't want to leave alone with a puppy for more than five seconds. This relationship — Eve the crazed girlfriend, Jonah the set-upon superhero — is the crux of the story, and Kellerman milks it for 33 chapters. The writing is crisp and brisk. It is also occasionally sublimely creepy, as when Eve declares her intentions to Jonah: 'I'm your mission, Jonah Stem. And you mine. When you walk, I am the stones beneath your feet. When you come home at night, I am your bed. During the day I'm your air and when you die I will be the earth that enfolds you.' (Note to recently engaged readers: If your betrothed suggests those lines as a wedding vow, call the whole thing off.) There is also a side plot involving Hannah, a former girlfriend of Jonah's who is a diagnosed schizophrenic. Their romantic relationship is long over, but Jonah still helps Hannah's drunkard father with her care. Inevitably, the stories of Hannah and Eve collide. If there is trouble with 'Trouble' — and there is — it's that there are too many 'that would never happen' moments for the plot to be believable. Many of the ludicrous plot turns hinge on surreptitiously recorded video evidence — some provided by Eve, some by Jonah's techie roommate, a pot-addled loafer who thinks 24/7 video tracking of even the most mundane aspects of his life is, somehow, a great artistic endeavor. Perhaps the clunkiest improbability occurs when Jonah asks his sister to look up Eve in her old Yale yearbook, and his sister doesn't realize that this is the woman her brother just saved from an attacker. Somehow she's oblivious to the woman's name despite the massive publicity that has surrounded the event. Ultimately, this is a mystery that requires such suspension of disbelief that it completely undermines Kellerman's captivating style. And to think he could have avoided these amateurish plot flops just by having Mom or Dad read an early draft." Reviewed by Joe Heim, assistant editor of The Washington Post's Sunday Source section, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"This second thriller from Kellerman...shows that the author is clearly getting the hang of this writing thing." Library Journal
"After a relatively cheery debut, the talented Kellerman...travels to Ruth Rendell country, and the bet here is you won't have read a more nightmarish novel all year." Kirkus Reviews
"Trouble has a lot to say to 21st century readers about the gray zone where heroes become villains, victims turn aggressive and love and violence are different sides of the same coin." Los Angeles Times
"There's not a false turn as Kellerman heavily relies on psychological suspense that chillingly escalates, complemented by sharp dialogue....[He] demonstrates just how strong his talent is." South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Following up his critically acclaimed debut Sunstroke, Kellerman pens a brilliant new thriller — twisted, sexy, and unrelentingly gripping.
Saving lives is Jonah Stem's job-but he usually does it at the hospital, not at 3 a.m. on the dark streets of Manhattan. When he impulsively intervenes to save a beautiful woman from a man menacing her with a knife, killing the attacker in the process, he is transformed from an overworked medical student to a hero in the media spotlight. The woman, Eve Gones, is profoundly grateful, and wants to show it. Before long, they're engaged in a wildly passionate love affair. An affair that Eve doesn't want to end. Ever.
About the Author
Jesse Kellerman was born in Los Angeles in 1978. His plays have won several awards, including the 2003 Princess Grace Award, given to America's most promising young playwright.
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