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Parallel Lies Hardcover – July 2, 2001

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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
Acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell's latest book, Landline, offers a poignant, humorous look at relationships and marriage. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (July 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786865644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786865642
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,699,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Penzler Pick, June 2001: Ridley Pearson, who has written 14 previous books, many of them featuring his Seattle cop Lou Boldt, ups the ante in his latest thriller.

Northern Union Railroad has been experiencing a series of accidents with their freight trains, but it is not until they find a freight car covered with blood that they call in outside help. Peter Tyler used to be a cop until he nearly beat a black man to death and lost his badge. When he gets a second chance via an old friend at the National Transportation Safety Board, he drives a convertible through a snowstorm with the top down (he suffers from claustrophobia) to view the freight car. He arrives at the scene to discover that he will have to deal with Northern Union's own security officer, Nell Priest, a black woman who already knows Tyler's history.

Meanwhile, Umberto Alvarez, the train wrecker, is systematically working his way towards his ultimate wreck, Northern's F.A.S.T. train due to make its maiden run from New York to Washington, D.C. Alvarez lost his wife and children when their car stalled between the gates at a crossing and were crushed by one of Northern's trains. Although Northern Union was cleared of all responsibility and Alvarez's wife was found negligent, he doesn't think that's so.

As Peter Tyler's investigation proceeds, he begins to come to the same conclusion. Closing in on Alvarez, he tries to interview the crossing guard who was on duty the day the wreck occurred. On arriving at the man's apartment, he finds the man bludgeoned to death--with the same stick with which Tyler beat the black man all that time ago. It's time to get paranoid. Who at Northern is covering up and what role does Nell play in all this? As always in a Ridley Pearson thriller, the action doesn't stop until the final page. --Otto Penzler

From Publishers Weekly

Pearson forsakes his franchise character, Seattle police detective Lou Boldt, for a railroad thriller that wobbles on its tracks. The hero here is Peter Tyler, a former Washington, D.C., homicide cop who was fired many say unjustly for beating a child-abuse suspect. Desperate for money, Tyler gets thrown a bone by an old friend who handles investigations for the National Transportation Safety Board. Handed a three-day contract, Tyler is assigned to check out a messy murder aboard a boxcar on a Northern Union Railroad line in rural Illinois. Nothing about the murder makes sense, but more intriguing to Tyler are the persistent rumors about why so many NUR trains have derailed in the past year. When Tyler turns up a suspect not only for the murder but also the derailments, he quickly finds that his services are no longer needed. Helped only by a railroad security officer, the lovely Nell Priest, Tyler follows the trail to New York City. That's where he believes the murderous vandal, who's seeking revenge for the railroad-related deaths of his wife and twin daughters, plans to sabotage the grand opening of NUR's most ambitious project: a bullet train connecting New York with the nation's capital. Pearson (Middle of Nowhere) keeps up his usual breakneck pace, and for excitement alone, his latest is good fun. But the story is marred by several false notes, imponderable plot twists and a clumsily executed love affair giving a squishy feel to an otherwise hard-edged thriller. Of greater concern, however, is Tyler. He simply never emerges as a character of substance or distinction. (July)Forecast: Despite Pearson's bestselling clout, a major/ad promo campaign and an eight-city author tour, tepid reviews and weak word of mouth may limit sales of this lackluster, Boldt-less effort.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Ridley Pearson (, the first American to be awarded the Raymond Chandler/Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction at Wadham College, Oxford University, is the bestselling author of over 35 novels including, Peter And the Starcatchers (co-written with Dave Barry), the young adult novel, The Kingdom Keepers, and two dozen crime novels including: Probable Cause, Beyond Recognition and Killer Weekend (July 2007). His novel The Diary Of Ellen Rimbauer, a prequel to a Stephen King miniseries, was a New York Times #1 bestseller, as was Peter and the Shadow Thieves (#1 for 6 weeks). Ridley adapted The Diary Of Ellen Rimbaurer for ABC Television; it aired in 2003.

Peter and the Starcatchers is to open as a stage play, off-Broadway in March 2011, under Disney Theatrical.

Ridley is a founding member of, and plays bass guitar in, the all-author rock band, The Rockbottom Remainders (, with Dave Barry, Stephen King, Scott Turow, Mitch Albom, Amy Tan and Greg Iles. The band has raised over 2.5 million dollars for charities over its 18 year history.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have read most of Ridley Pearson's Boldt/Matthews novels and have thoroughly enjoyed them. They have good character development, realistic dialogue, and a compelling, interesting plot. Unfortunately, this non-Boldt novel has none of those. Though the plot is reasonably entertaining, the characters are among the most uninteresting I have ever encountered and, for the most part, are totally unbelievable. I don't think I've read a sillier love story in my life than the one between Tyler and Priest; it takes a lot to wade through some of the scenes wherein Tyler repeatedly is distracted by Priest's alleged beauty and wants nothing more than to grab her, caress her, and so on...Holy Bad Romance Novel!! Ridley Pearson is a good writer and he can do better than this. Like some other reviewers, I suspect that this may be an older piece of work that he pulled out of the attic and dusted off. It simply doesn't read like some of his more recent (and much better) efforts. I eagerly await the next Boldt/Matthews tale and I suggest that others who like Pearson's work do the same.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rachel B. on July 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I would actually give this book 3.5 stars if I was able to. I am a huge Ridley fan - especially the Lou Boldt series. I was excited to read this book, and it took me a long time to get into it. The first 100 pages didn't turn fast enough, and the only reason I kept going was because I am a fan of the author. But, the end of the book was fast paced, and the book got better the further toward the end I got. The story was interesting, with no clear cut villian. I liked the characters, although I think that both Peter Tyler and Nell Priest could have been better developed. I liked the idea of David vs. Golliath, but the story just didn't have the special spark that Ridley usually has. It's a good summer read for the beach, but it doesn't do the author any justice. If this is your first time reading Ridley, don't start with this book - find his others first!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on October 14, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ridley Pearson, as always, gives us a fast ride. I had become a bit tired of Lou Boldt and Daphne's clenched teeth platonic relationship, and looked forward to some new characters. I looked in the wrong direction. The plot and the modern day railroad lore are excellent, if a bit too technical at times. The characters are preposterous.
Peter Tyler is a down and out ex-homicide cop with an anxiety disorder that presents as acute claustrophobia. He is fired, in disgrace and facing a civil suit for excessive force against a black child beater. Somehow these qualifications get him temporary employment with the National Transportation Board to investigate a possible homicide involving a major railroad line. In a side-by-side story line, Umberto Alverez is seeking revenge against the railroad company for what he sees as negligence and cover-up in the crossing deaths of his wife and twin daughters. The chase and the chased gradually draw closer and closer together until Tyler and Alverez have a symbiotic relationship.
Reading about the trains was excellent stuff, interesting (hobos aren't "hobos" anymore, they are "riders") and informative. The action was fast paced. But the character's actions and motivations were like a James Bond movie gone bad. A beautiful, ambitious female executive becomes an informer on her own company because she may or may not have an itch for a scruffy, delusional ex-cop. Another fast living cocktail waitress who had a crush on Umberto when she was twelve behaves like a combination of Joan of Arc and whistle blower to save Umberto from --- what? An intelligent, highly placed government administrator misuses government authority against the railroad company because--he is in a pout?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Can't understand the negative reviews. This thriller about the railroads ran just like a train; eases out at first, picks up speed, rushes to an exciting climax, and slows to a satisfying stop. Unlike the opinion of the some reviewers, the characters were given just enough depth. Pearson does a wonderful job of shifting the reader's sympathies from the good guys to the bad guys; in fact one is never quite sure who is wearing the white hat in this very solid read. This novel is absolutely worth the trip.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Hayes on July 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What would you do if your world were torn apart? If everything that had meaning were lost? These are questions dealt with by two very different characters in Ridley Pearson's Parallel Lies.
Umberto Alvarez lost his family. His wife and twins were killed when a train hit their van at a crossing. Peter Tyler lost his job. He lost control and beat a suspect he saw severely abusing a baby. As a free-lance investigator for the NTSB, ex-cop Tyler finds himself chasing Alvarez to solve what he believes is a murder. In the course of the chase Tyler discovers a cover-up by the railroads, leading him to an understanding of Alvarez's desperation. Is Alvarez the 'bad guy' or a victim? Will Tyler become a victim again?
As suspense builds towards the trial run of a new high-speed train, F-A-S-T Track all of the players come together for a heart stopping race against time across the tracks.
It's a stand alone story with real characters that are neither all good nor all bad. If you haven't read Pearson's other books this is a good place to start. If you have read him then you know that you're in for an exciting read.
A great book to read if you're flying, but you might not want to take the train for a while!
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