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Remember Norman Bates, the cyber-creep from Hitchcock's Psycho? Julian Sawyer, the title character in Abrahams's latest suspense yarn, is clearly cut from the same cloth a creep in sheep's clothing. Once again this author finds menace in dailiness, as he creates a scenario that's firmly grounded in real life, but which becomes increasingly (and fascinatingly) skewed Leave It to Beaver meets I Know What You Did Last Summer. Things begin routinely enough when Linda and Scott Gardner hire Julian to improve the less-than-acceptable SAT scores of their teenage son, Brandon. But before you can say "just like Norman Bates," the seemingly affable, helpful Julian earns the Gardners' trust and subtly exploits each family member's weakness in an attempt to topple their suburban house of cards. While Abrahams slowly ratchets up the tension, readers will discover that professional backstabbing, financial ruin and even murder are all within the scope of this tutor's lesson plans. As usual, the author's ear for the diverse details of everyday life is sharp; indeed, our empathy with these characters' recognizable quirks cleverly serves as a sort of buffer against the sinister goings-on until it's nearly too late. Though all the characters here are deftly drawn (even Zippy, the Gardners' pooch, demonstrates an endearing personality in a brief, nonspeaking role), one merits special mention: not only is the immensely precocious Ruby Gardner passionate about Sherlock Holmes and anything colored blue and yellow, but she's wise well beyond her 11 years and almost smart enough to outfox Julian. Put it this way: if The Tutor were a TV show, Ruby would be spun off into her own series in a Hollywood minute.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Adult/High School-Hired by Scott and Linda Gardner to help their teenage son, Brandon, improve his SAT scores, Julian Sawyer quickly makes himself indispensable to the family. Only Ruby (Aruba Nicole Marx Gardner), 11, a precocious Sherlock Holmes devotee, begins to suspect that the tutor has sinister intent. The Gardners are upwardly mobile, middle-class people concerned with an Ivy League college acceptance for their only son. Scott, in business with his brother, suffers from a sibling inferiority complex, exacerbated by the success Tom's son has had with the SATs and tennis competitions. Linda, concerned with success at her job, baffled by her son's surliness, and frazzled by the whirl of family pressure, is a perfect target for the oh-so-capable Julian. Both parents wrestle with long-standing guilt and grief over the death of their firstborn son. Brandon is acting out, rebelling against pressures he really can't define. All three individuals are like lab animals to Julian; he experiments with their responses by subtly altering their environments. Ruby seems beyond his machinations and understanding and proves to be a worthy, capable adversary in this lethal duel of wits, as she follows clues in true Holmesian fashion. Reading this novel is a compelling roller-coaster ride-one just can't get off until it's over. Teens will enjoy the fast pace, the absorbing foray into deadly mind games, and the valiant heroine.
Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke,
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I've long been a fan of Peter Abrahams work, no pun intended. I got hooked when The Perfect Murder came out, and worked my way back and forward through many of his stories. Read morePublished on March 21 2003
This is the first book by Abrahams I read and I enjoyed it. It's very difficult to put down and the characters truly come alive, if not always in an appealing way. Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2003
Peter Abrahams must be a scary,scary man. "Crying Wolf" was a brilliant, intense suspense thriller in a class of its own. Read morePublished on Nov. 8 2002 by Christian
While this book started out well, it didn't last. The characters were one-dimensional (except for Ruby) and the plot had some major errors in it. Read morePublished on Oct. 6 2002 by Nancy A. Hudson
Have you ever hired help who become part of your lives and then they never leave. Remember the painter Eldin from Murphy Brown or more recently the general contractor from the... Read morePublished on Sept. 22 2002 by Nancy R. Katz
This is my first Peter Abrahams book, so don't know how it compares to his others. But it's definitely a page-turner and has decent characters, most of whom are not supposed to be... Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2002 by Nina
This book was so-so. The storyline, about a psychotic stranger who enters a family in the guise of a friend and wrecks havoc, has been told before in movies and novels. Read morePublished on Aug. 10 2002
This book reads like an unedited movie by a
teenager. I expected a lot more from Abrahams.
The author fails to build any character reference
and often jumps from... Read more