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Panic Attack Hardcover – August 4, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A bungled burglary sparks Starr's darkly humorous crime thriller. Carlos Sanchez wasn't expecting anyone to be home, much less have an entire clip emptied into him as he reached the top of the stairs of the brownstone he breaks into in Forest Hills Gardens, Queens. The gun-wielding psychologist, Adam Bloom, is almost equally surprised—instead of being hailed as a hero for defending his wife and daughter in his own home, the media vilify him as a crazed vigilante for using all 10 bullets. Even worse, the sociopathic Johnny Long, going along with his pal Carlos for an easy score, decides to make the Blooms pay in more blood for the incident after he escapes into the night. Targeting the wife and daughter, the vainly handsome Long may be a delicious bit of self-parody by the photogenic author, who remains unexcelled in portraying self-involved New Yorkers. Funny and suspenseful, this novel is Starr delightfully at the top of his game. Author tour.(Aug.)
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Psychotherapist Adam Bloom, wife Dana, and daughter Marissa seem to have it all: financial security, a lovely home in a leafy enclave in New York City, a loyal housekeeper, and each other. But Marissa has returned to the nest after graduation from Vassar full of angst about her future, and Adam and Dana do little but lacerate each other. Their privileged, neurotic lives are completely upended when Adam shoots a burglar who has entered their home. Cops, ravening media, Dana’s loathing of Adam’s gun, and the possibility that a second burglar may seek revenge turn Bloom family dynamics toxic—and deadly. Starr’s plotting is elaborate, and his development of principal characters is deft and detailed. The marital antagonisms will likely strike a chord with almost anyone who has been married for two decades. The problem is that the Blooms and the other characters are totally self-absorbed and not terribly interesting; Panic Attack is well put together, but crime fans usually want someone to root for. --Thomas Gaughan
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The Blooms have more than their share of troubles: After twenty-three years of marriage, Adam and Dana are no longer emotionally or physically close. Dana, who is a bored housewife, believes that her husband is too self-absorbed to care about her feelings and that that he is more interested in his practice than he is in her. She also detests Adam's condescension and frequent use of psychobabble to put her in her place. Although Adam loves Marissa, he is fed up with her. After completing her studies at Vassar in art history, she returns to her parents' home, acquires tattoos, puts pink streaks in her hair, and spends most of her time hanging out with friends. She has made no realistic plans to find a job that would enable her to live independently. Her father constantly squabbles with Marissa, ordering her to get her act together.
Starr has written an electrifying and well-constructed novel with a sociopathic villain who is all the more sinister because he is so handsome and charming. He finds a way to insinuate himself into the lives of this troubled family with disastrous consequences. However, "Panic Attack" is more than an excruciatingly suspenseful and fast-paced thriller. It is also a distressing portrait of a father, mother, and daughter who can no longer speak to one another without rancor. Bloom may have some talent as a clinician, but he is a deeply flawed husband and father with a hair-trigger temper. Dana makes serious errors in judgment that come back to haunt her, and to round out this dysfunctional trio, Marissa's selfishness and irresponsibility complete her family's descent into free fall. As imperfect as they are, however, these three people do not deserve to have a vicious and sadistic killer manipulate them and use their vulnerabilities against them. Reading the exciting and unpredictable "Panic Attack" is like watching a terrible car crash. We know that we should not stare, but it is difficult to look away.
Basic plot of Panic Attack. Dr Adam Bloom is awakened next to his bored and ungrateful for how she lives housewife by his adult daughter Marissa, who is living at home because her entry level job at a museum wasn't exciting enough for her and she expects another that better recognises her uni qualifications and talent will be handed to her shortly. Marissa tells her father that someone is in the house. Adam goes to investigate, but takes his gun with him. When an intruder comes up the stairs Adam tells him to stop, the guy mocks him and reaches inside his jacket and the terrified Adam fires his weapon. Carlos is dead, shot ten times and he was unarmed. Adam thinks he is now a big man, that women he went to high school with will now wish they had him, and that he will be praised in the streets. However the New York community and media are not in agreement with his opinion.
Also in the house that night was Carlos' accomplice Johnny. Carlos had since childhood protected the good looking smaller Johnny from severe bashings and the like. Johnny will avenge his like a brother friend. Since in his mind Johnny is the world's greatest casanova, he has come up with the ultimate plan that involves Adam's daughter. He will not just kill Adam but make him feel the pain of loss that he has just endured, and more!
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