Panic Hardcover – Feb 1 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
An unassuming documentary filmmaker is plunged into the dark world of contract killing and espionage in this superior, fast-paced thriller, Abbott's eighth outing (after Do Unto Others). Evan Casher's safe, quiet life in Austin, Tex., begins to unravel when he discovers his mother murdered and barely escapes death himself, the first of dozens of close calls and harrowing twists as he finds himself the prey of a dangerous freelance spy ring known as the Deeps. This shadowy network is led by Jargo, a cunning, brutally efficient point man who believes that Casher has a computer file containing secret information about the organization's contacts. Casher is baffled until he learns the stunning truth: his mother, a travel photographer, and his father, a computer consultant, were actually secret agents, and large aspects of Casher's life were complete fabrications. (Turns out his girlfriend also works for the Deeps.) The action jumps from Texas to London to Florida as Casher tries to stay a step ahead of Jargo, find the computer file and rescue his father, who's being held by the Deeps. Abbott has fashioned another burst of white-knuckled suspense that's extremely hard to put down. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Those who disparage page-turners seldom appreciate what it takes to pull off a really good one, such as Abbott's engrossing hardcover debut, which follows a string of hardboiled paperback originals. There's nothing especially noteworthy about the story: no fancy props, global implications, history lessons, or distracting subplots. Just the familiar tale of a young man, a documentary filmmaker named Evan Casher, who awakes one morning to find his world turned upside down, his mother killed, himself pursued on all sides by enigmatic forces that range from menacing to sadistic, his loved ones in danger, everything he once believed in revealed to be a lie. Yet, with skilled handling of riveting action sequences, plot twists, and camera angles, all converging at breakneck speed, Abbott whips these simple ingredients into a near-perfect thriller that may indeed result in physical distress akin to panic for anyone trying to put the thing down before the last bullet flies. Fans of Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Joseph Finder, or John Grisham--anyone who enjoys a wild ride on a bumpy road--can cheer the arrival of our latest master of the fine art of the page-turner. Highly recommended. David Wright
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This tells the story of Evan Casher, a twenty-something documentary film maker who's life begins to spiral out of control when he finds his mother brutally murdered while narrowly escaping the same fate for himself. Poor Evan begins to realize that everything he's ever accepted as truth is up for grabs as he tries to unravel the mysteries of mom's slaughter, find dad, and keep his new girlfriend satisfied. OK so far. But from this promising start, Abbott meanders at a needlessly slow pace through place and time, infusing what could have been an interesting premise with an overdose of schmaltz and melodrama that I found more tedious than thrilling. I suppose the die-hard black helicopter crowd would consider the plot gospel, but the storyline was stretched just a bit too far for my sensibilities. Evan's transformation from nerdy film boy to super-spy left me out in the cold as he magically matches wits and heavy weapons with steely-eyed operatives who are more comfortable handling Berettas than movie cameras.
This was by no means a bad book, but no better than the average thriller, and definitely not up to the adrenaline-charged page-turners of Lee Child, to which "Panic" has been compared. For a more realistic average-guy-placed-in-extraordinary-circumstances story, try "Caught Stealing" by Charlie Huston. Or, if you prefer a more brutally likely finish for the kid trying to play out of his league with guys who practice violence for a living, try Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men." But if you insist on going with the majority, my advice: before dropping sixteen-and-change for the hardback, go to the library, look for a used copy, or wait for the paperback.
My reason for saying this is that I just finished Abbott's latest novel, PANIC, a task that requires --- nay, demands! --- your nonstop attention from beginning to end. The body count starts on page six and doesn't stop until practically the very end. However, this isn't a spray-and-pray gorefest; it's a smart, intelligent thriller that keeps you unsteady and guessing throughout, combining the best elements of such novels as MARATHON MAN and nearly everything that Robert Ludlum ever wrote, and whipping it into a verbal frenzy that is all Abbott's own.
PANIC begins with Evan Casher getting an early morning telephone call from his mother, who tells him that he needs to come and see her in Austin, TX immediately. Casher makes the two-plus-hour drive from Houston in record time to find his mother murdered in her kitchen and himself on the receiving end of a brutal, deadly attack. He is saved by a mysterious benefactor who sets Casher on a dangerous path of discovery and duplicity.
An up-and-coming documentary filmmaker, Casher is not without his own resources, but soon he finds himself in way over his head. He quickly discovers that his parents are not who he thinks they were, and that someone --- actually, a group of someones --- believes that Casher possesses information that they are all too willing to kill for in order to obtain. Casher cannot trust anyone --- his mysterious rescuer, his girlfriend, even his own father --- and one of the fabulous elements of this book is that the reader can't either.
There are also a couple of really, really nasty guys, Dezz and Jargos, who collectively are a lifetime's worth of nightmares. But don't get too attached to anyone in PANIC; they'll either break your heart or disappoint you by not making it to the end of the novel. Well, there might be an exception or two, but you'll have to read to find out.
If you need an adrenaline jolt, or your heart kick-started, PANIC is just the ticket. The title is in big letters on the cover for a reason. And don't start it if you can't finish it on the same day or night. You'll drive yourself crazy waiting.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
`PANIC' is an intricate tale of spies and espionage that takes you deeper into the world of the "Deeps" with every turn of the page. The Deeps are a freelance spy network that has worked for every high-ranking government agency in the world including the CIA, FBI and KGB. They stay under the radar, have connections in extremely high places and you never know who is an operative. Unfortunately for filmmaker Evan Crasher his picture perfect life is turned upside down when he finds out that his parents are two of the Deeps chief agents. Now with his mother dead and his father being held captive Evan is forced to attempt to take down the Deeps all on his own. However, this task proves to be even harder than first imagined as the layers of this story slowly peel away to reveal just how far the Deeps run.
Abbot has masterfully woven a tale with brilliant twists and turns at every corner. I assure you this book is impossible to put down and will keep you wanting more, if you are a fan of thrillers `PANIC' is a must!
Sadly, the premise is about the only thing going for this book. It just goes to show that writing decent thrillers is harder than it looks. It requires more than simply keeping the action going. You need to have a plot that makes at least partial sense and which is credible enough to allow the reader to suspend disbelief. You need to have some sympathy for the lead character and give the other characters reasons to be there. You need to build up the tension so that the reader wants to keep reading. None of those elements are there in "Panic".
It felt like Jeff Abbott had dissected some Harlan Coben novels and thought: "Right, I need a hero who finds out that his life is based on a lie. I'll give him a girlfriend with a mysterious secret and throw in an uber bad guy who wants something from him. I'll make sure he doesn't know who he can trust. That'll work!" And maybe in a ten page synopsis to the publisher, it did. But what eventuates is a convoluted mess that feels extremely formulaic, where plot "twists" are so predictable that the only suspense is in guessing how many pages it will take until they are revealed. I don't recommend this book at all.
The premise? Pretty simple and straight forward mystery/thriller stuff, with enough of a twist to make it interesting. Up-and-coming documentary filmmaker Evan Casher gets a strange phone call from his mother pleading for him to come and see her immediately. Evan leaves his safe daily routine (and his gorgeous and slightly mysterious new girlfriend) and returns to his parents home to find his mother brutally murdered - and now the killers are after him!
Whooo-boy! Another blurb on the cover, via Maxim, states that "Panic aims to thrill with every page..." They got that right. But frankly, Panic is cheesy to the point of being unreadable. You can just imagine Abbott straining to come up with a concept that's Hollywood-thriller worthy. Well, I guess he managed that - you can distill the plot down into a sentence or two (just like Hollywood likes) - but his writing... Oy.
Forget an intelligent thriller about a normal guy thrown into an abnormal situation. As other reviews here have stated, there's absolutely no way can I buy the fact that soft, movie-boy Casher can suddenly become a super-spy, going up against (supposedly) brutal and hardened, caramel-chewing, CIA-trained assassins and live.
And worse, even if I could suspend my disbelief (maybe being a super-spy is in Casher's genes - ? After all, both his parents were, so why not?), Abbott's dialogue is vapid, his characters are ridiculously overplayed and stereotyped (remember the old movie villain, twirling his teensy mustache while chuckling maniacally?), and there may as well be a flurry of exclamation points at the end of each cliffhanging chapter.
God knows there are worse books out there, and I imagine that folks who like Harlen Coben's silly, over-hyped thrillers will probably get a kick out of this too. At least the cover was sort of cool. But once past that, this 'thriller' can't deliver the promise of it's title. Unfortunately, I can see the movie poster now...