David Fitzgerald is a 40-year-old English teacher with the rare ability to reach at least some
of his students at a poor high school in Coney Island. But one who he can't reach is Nasser Hamdy, a Palestinian boy so scarred by hate that he joins with terrorists to plant a bomb in a school bus. A combination of accident and courage turns Fitzgerald into a media hero when he keeps most of his class from boarding the bus and then risks his life to rescue a pregnant teenager who got on early. But circumstantial factors quickly turn the tide and make Fitzgerald a prime suspect in the bombing. He is savaged by the system but never officially accused.
Blauner does everything well, from creating compelling scenes of urban terror, to making us believe in Fitzgerald as a gifted teacher, loving father, and exhausted husband. Blauner's background as a journalist also makes the media reaction within the story instantly credible--humanizing at least one member of the ravening media rat pack.
Catch Blauner's two previous thrillers: Slow Motion Riot and The Intruder, both available in paperback. --Dick Adler
From Publishers Weekly
Thorough reportage and dead-on description make Blauner's latest city-streets novel (after 1997's paperback bestseller The Intruder) as impressive for its realism as for its suspense. David Fitzgerald is a slang-talking, highly literate 40-year-old English teacher who tolerates the frustrations of working at dilapidated Coney Island High School for the sake of students like bright, conflicted Palestinian Elizabeth Hamdy. Elizabeth's older brother, Nasser, was also once in Fitzgerald's class. Unreachable and full of hatred for America and Israel, he has joined a terrorist group that practices jihad, believing that even robbing a convenience store or killing a child is sanctioned by God's will. When Nasser and his fellow terrorists plant a bomb in a school bus, Fitzgerald becomes an accidental hero by preventing most of his class from entering the vehicle and then risking his life to rescue a pregnant teenager who is already on board. Circumstantial factors, however, soon reverse Fitzgerald's image and he becomes a prime suspect in the bombing, savaged by the system but never officially accused. Dysfunctional urban settings inhabited by uneasy, suspicious immigrants create a backdrop to Fitzgerald's personal drama: a marriage to a mentally unstable actress, and a deep fear that his contact with his son will be terminated. Blauner, a former journalist, writes about the media with the jaded authority of an insider. His novel looks unflinchingly at the aspects of contemporary American life that make morality a transient, relative principle. Agent, Richard Pine. 175,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.