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The Survivors Club
by Lisa Gardner
Bantam/$23.95

Consider yourself warned, fiction fans: Reading The Survivors Club while spread prone pool or seaside will most likely result in some serious sunburn. Gardner has produced the perfect summer page-turner. Think The Firm but by someone who can actually write. One can only hope Gardner gets the same star treatment afforded to Grisham from Hollywood; I've got just the actors for every part already running around my head (Laura Linney would make the perfect Jillian Hayes, and Christian Bale is a shoe-in for David Price).

Rhode Island state police detective Roan Griffin has just returned to work after an extended bereavement leave (his wife succumbed to cancer) to find himself thrust into the latest twist on Providence's most high-profile case. Serial rapist Eddie Como's day in court has finally arrived, but the poor bastard is shot at the courthouse immediately upon exiting the police van. Como's surviving victims - Jillian Hayes, who's younger sister was also murdered by the rapist, neglected wife Carol Rosen and Meg Pesaturo, who's attack resulted in partial amnesia - have formed The Survivors Club, a support group where they can share their pain. It's largely through the club's efforts that Como was finally arrested, but has one of the women taken her grief a step further, arranging Como's death? Tough to say really, since the hit man was turned into a crispy critter by a car bomb a few blocks from the courthouse, mere minutes after fulfilling his contract.

As with all good thrillers, everyone's hiding something from someone else. Griffin's past — in the form of the aforementioned Price — arises to complicate his present, shades of the mob crop up and, of course, the police may have arrested the wrong guy, regardless of what the DNA evidence says (cause, ya know, when a rapists continues his pattern of violence after his death, judgements tend to get called into question).

The book's various story lines begin to commingle rather quickly, the characters (even the minor ones) are compelling and intelligent, and the plot careens along at shotgun speed right up to the stunning ending. In short, everything you'd expect from a New York Times best-selling author.

You could wait for Survivors Club: The Movie, but then you'd miss all the fun of the imaginary casting process.

—Kelli K

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