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Trouble Hardcover – January 18, 2007

3.3 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.)
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Review

Trouble opens like a Scrubs episode-you can easily imagine Zach Braff as medical student Jonah Stem, wandering Times Square at 2 a.m., his shoes squishy with, uh, emergency-room detritus following a rough night on call.... But like Scrubs, in the end Trouble is a satisfying journey into the bizarre. 3 1/2 out of 4 stars -- People, February 5, 2007

After a relatively cheery debut, the talented Kellerman (Sunstroke, 2005) travels to Ruth Rendell country, and the bet here is you won't have read a more nightmarish novel all year. -- Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2006
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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

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (January 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399154035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399154034
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,117,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Within a short time, Jesse Kellerman --- the son of bestselling authors Jonathan and Faye Kellerman --- has established a solid reputation for quality and unpredictability. His debut novel, SUNSTROKE, was an enigmatic tale played out mostly in rural Mexico. TROUBLE, his sophomore effort, is even more disturbing than its predecessor, an accessible work that treads uneasily across dangerous if familiar ground.

The book takes place primarily in New York City, though the locus of the events that propel it could occur in any large or medium-sized city. Jonah Stem is a medical student who has just begun a surgical rotation; he is so exhausted that he barely can keep one foot moving in front of the other. He's in the middle of a late-night errand when he encounters a woman being attacked on the street; his intervention is impulsive, reactive and successful. The victim is saved, and the attacker somehow winds up dead. Stem gets his 15 minutes of fame, and life goes on --- but suddenly it becomes very different for him.

Eve Gones, the young lady Stem rescues, shows up to thank him. Her gratitude takes on a more intimate form, and there are layers to her that Stem cannot imagine. As she begins to reveal herself, he decides that he wants no part of her. Unfortunately for Stem, Gones will not go away so easily. She begins insinuating herself deeper and deeper into his life, and the more Stem finds out about her, the more he realizes that he's in a situation that can only end badly. The family of Gones's attacker wants their pound of flesh as well, and when Stem discovers the terrible truth about everything that's happening, he is convinced that his future --- if indeed he has one --- is in jeopardy.

Kellerman's narrative is unnerving and haunting.
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Format: Hardcover
Kellerman constructs a contemporary urban psychological suspense novel, featuring overtired Jonah Stern. He's totally plausible: a nice young man who's so deeply immersed in his studies, he's naive about life and love. As another reviewer suggests, he may have personality quirks that draw disturbed women to him.

Stern meets Eve Gones when he hears her screaming for help on a deserted street. Judgment impaired by fatigue, he rushes to help her and learns all too well the meaning of, "No good deed goes unpunished."

Readers will sense Eve is trouble long before Jonah. But once he catches on, we realize he's caught in a nightmare with no escape. It's a sub-genre of suspense: a hero finds himself in the grip of an evil person who's determined to destroy him.

What sets Trouble apart are the three-dimensional characters, the scenes from Jonah's life as a medical student, and the juxtaposition of bizarre horror with everyday urban life. We're encouraged to think about the power of accusations.

I didn't find any of the scenes implausible. Unlikely, perhaps, and definitely bizarre. But they could happen.

If this book gets popular, I'd be tempted to buy stock in a background checking service. Eve could be anybody.
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Format: Hardcover
There are two problems with this novel. The first is Kellerman's writing style. He may be the son of Jonathon and Faye Kellerman, but he writes like he is the offspring of Dean "I never met an adverb I didn't like" Koontz. Kellerman's writing `tries too hard'. He writes sentences that are loaded with adjectives, adverbs, awkward similes and obscure references. Kellerman's bloated writing bogs his story down.

The predictable ending to this novel is made even more anti-climactic when Kellerman jumps forward in time, out of the action and into an epilogue where he explains what happened `after the fact'. What little suspense he had managed to build is completely lost.

The second problem with this novel are the characters, particularly Eve Gones, Jonah's psycho girlfriend. Good suspense novels require a good villain and while Eve is indeed sinister, unfortunately she is also tedious, pretentious, and annoying.

This is a problem. The villain can be a lot of things (creepy, disturbing, cruel, demented, evil) but most of all, they need to interesting, not irritating. Eve's lengthy, self-indulgent, and painfully trite monologues are nothing short of torture to read. And Jonah's complete inability to deal with Eve's increasingly bizarre behavior is just as frustrating for the reader.

Reading this novel is like banging your head against a wall.
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Format: Hardcover
Jesse Kellerman's wonderful second novel, "Trouble," is graphic, edgy, chilling, and fully absorbing -- even more so than his fine debut Sunstroke. In a sense, Trouble picks up one of Sunstroke's more unsettling themes and runs like hell with it: namely, how little we really know about the people who inhabit our lives. In the case of Trouble's hero, a third-year med student named Jonah Stem, the beautiful, sexually insatiable woman who appears abruptly in his life may not be exactly who & what she represents herself to be. Kellerman pulled rug-after-rug out from under me and never let my feet touch the ground. A tight, gripping thriller right through the end.
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Format: Hardcover
Other reviewers have done a fine job of describing the plot of this book, so I won't rehash it here. Having read these other reviews, it appears that I am in the minority regarding its plot/premise -- I did not find the book or its ending as predictable as many others did. In the "big picture" sense, I think it's obvious how this book will end...very few books written in this vein end any other way. That said, I was surprised by the path the author took to reach the end of the story.

My real disappointment with this book was in its failure to explore and explain why the "villian" behaved in the manner that she did. She was over the top and really "out there" and the author took pains to depict some of her actions and behaviors quite graphically. Lacking an explanation of her past, her psyche, etc., however, the character ultimately seemed more caricature than character and, in the end, I felt like I'd just read a book that was missing a few chapters.
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