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Death Watch Paperback – May, 2005

3.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Los Angeles television reporter Sydney St. James usually covers topics like erectile dysfunction and the birth of a hippopotamus at the local zoo. Then she suddenly finds herself in the middle of the story of her career: a terrorist plot that has baffled government experts and pundits. Terrorists are sending messages (e.g., by telegram or e-mail) to unsuspecting recipients, informing them that they will die in 48 hours. And the deaths come as promised. After Sydney stumbles across one of the "Death Watch" messages at an accident scene, people near and dear to her begin to receive threats, and she sets out to expose the perpetrators. But she doesn't face this awesome task alone. She's shored up by her strong, evangelical Christian faith, and she forges an unlikely partnership with German reporting star Hans Vonner. The ending leaves readers hanging just a tad—perhaps the authors are setting up a sequel—but it makes a refreshing change from the expected perfectly pat conclusion. Cavanaugh and Kuiper give readers intrigue as well as sacrificial characters who make tough decisions and take great risk to do what they think is right. No one will mistake this book for a literary thriller, but it's fast-paced and lean, and guaranteed to entertain CBA readers. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Death Watch features Sydney St. James, intrepid girl reporter for a Los Angeles TV station, who stumbles onto the story of a lifetime: all over the world, people are receiving notices of their imminent death. No matter what precautions are taken, the deaths occur as announced--to good, bad, famous, and obscure people. The explanation for why is pretty thin stuff, however, and may prove unsatisfactory to readers other than evangelicals.

Christian novels often mask as realistic, but the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association's code of purity, and the necessity to take the party line on doctrinal matters, is more likely to inspire propaganda than realism. Cramer vaults past such restrictions, however, with his story of a brooding young Amish man, Will Mullet, who in 1943 flees his home in Ohio. There's his pitiless father, Levi, who cannot be reasoned with, and a girlfriend, Mattie, whose pregnancy has caused Will to be banned. After knocking about on the road for a while, Will enlists, and irony of ironies for a pacifist, finds a home in the army. He's a good man but seems remote and intractable to his sons, and he's a difficult husband as well throughout his prickly but unbreakable marriage. (The confrontation between Will's wife, Helen, and a circle of judgmental Amish women is priceless.) As he grows older, Will tries to go home again but cannot; nor does his stubborn father mellow even a little. Yet in time there's forgiveness to be had, and wisdom, in this beautiful and original story that neither damns nor praises the Amish but simply presents them. This is accomplished work. John Mort
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Cavanaugh, Jack
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310215765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310215769
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,296,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow! Jack Cavanaugh - one of my favorite historical fiction authors and here he ventures into paranormal / heavenlies. ! Where are you - please write more books! A mans, man and writer, but enthralling for female readers as well. All characters are researched, believably real.
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Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed Death Watch until the final chapters where the quality just dropped off, the authors got lazy and gave us a weak ending and unimaginative cause for the Death Watch notices. The book was up there with other supernatural mystery novels such as The Stand and The Cell by Stephen King, I was hooked and couldn't put it down but the weak and unfortunately propagandarous preachy ending disappointingly lets this great story and its readers down.

In Death Watch, Sydney St James is looking to be assigned a story with a bit more substance than the usual light hearted features she has been assigned in her short journalistic career. Unfortunately for her, her arch rival takes what she thought would be her big break away from her and Sydney is sent to report on the car crash on the freeway outside the station's building. After seeing a note in one of the vehicles and using her looks to her advantage with a traffic cop, Sydney discovers what turns out to be the biggest story of mankind, that a series of victims have all received notes telling them the exact time they will die and died precisely as the notes outlined. Teamed up with EuroNet superstar Hunz Vonner who sees her as an unprofessional emotional hindrance, Sydney sets out to find the source of the Death Watch notes. A pregnant Wonder Wheel contestant, homeless man who talks to angels and many other characters all put her career and future in jeopardy as many including Hunz, question if she has what it takes to be an unbiased journalist who doesn't get attached to the subjects and gets the story at all costs.
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Format: Paperback
This book was great about 90% of the time. Cavanaugh and Kuiper really know how to craft a story. Sydney St James, a Los Angeles TV news reporter, stumbles on what is, quite possibly, the biggest news story ever. While covering what seems to be a fatal car crash, she finds that the driver had received a "Death Watch" notice: "You have been selected for death. Precisely forty-eight hours from the time of this transmission you will die. This is an official death watch notice."

As it turns out, six other deaths (with accompanying notices) occurred that day in Los Angeles. And before the end of the day, St. James finds out that thousands of the notices have been sent all around the world. As the evidence begins coming in, two things become clear: (1) the mortality rate is 100% and (2) St James is quickly losing her objectivity as a news reporter, getting wrapped up in the lives of some of the recipients. The latter is completely understandable, but does become more prominent as the story progresses. Were her involvement with -- people who were a day ago -- total strangers not enough, the authors ratchet up the tension when people close to St James receive notices, too.

Like I said, 90% of this book is great. But that other 10% . . .

Early in the book, there is a gaping hole in continuity. One of the notices turns out to be a hoax. Even though details of the notices were only made public hours before this scene takes place, the perpetrator of the hoax knew 48 hours earlier the exact wording of the notices, so that he could duplicate it precisely. I'm really surprised that neither of the authors, nor the editor, caught this issue. It doesn't help any, either, that this scene does nothing to advance the story.
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Format: Paperback
This terrific book sucked me in from the first page. Jerry Kuiper has a way with a turn of phrase that is strikingly visual. The characters are three-dimensional and enjoyable to read about. I loved the behind the scenes look at network news. I truly enjoyed this book and plan to share it with others. And I can't wait for the rest of the series!
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You check your email and open a message without a return address. The subject is: Death Watch. It says, "You have been selected for death. Precisely forty-eight hours from the time of this transmission you will die. This is an official death watch notice."

Sydney St. James is a young reporter on KSMJ-TV, channel 2 in Los Angeles. In the opening scenes, Sydney is stuck in a typical traffic jam due to an accident. Later, when assigned to investigate this accident, Sydney presses a local policeman and learns that it is more than a traffic death. It's the seventh sudden death during that particular morning.

As Sydney digs deeper into the story, she discovers this death watch is a worldwide situation where healthy people unexplainably die after their 48-hour notification. The death watch notices have no pattern or consistent target. Beyond the main plot of the death watch, several sub-themes are built into this fascinating novel. Cori Zinn is a jealous, young and ambitious reporter also on the KSMJ-TV staff. At every possible opportunity, Cori tries to turn any attention away from Sydney and toward herself --- whether in a meeting or with a choice assignment. The dynamic creates a realistic inner office rivalry between Cori and Sydney.

Renowned international newscaster Hunz Vonner visits the station and assists Sydney as she tries to unravel the mysterious death watch. The pair, along with a camera crew, set ups close to the 48-hour time limit at healthy 61-year-old Lyle Vandeveer's home. They want to report on the death watch; mysteriously, at exactly the same time, Vandeveer dies on live television.

Sydney discovers a lead as to who's responsible for the death watch from an unusual source --- Reverend Billy Peppers, a street preacher to the homeless.
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