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The Tutor Mass Market Paperback – Jul 29 2003

3.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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99 by Wayne Gretzky 99 by Wayne Gretzky

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (July 29 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345439414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345439413
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 3 x 17.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,339,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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 Audio CD edition.

From School Library Journal

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 Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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. Spoiler--how the heck does the bad guy, the tutor obviously, end up being on the receiving end of a blow to the head given to him by the wife, only to end up in the next scene taking two grown adults into an attic through a small hole, wrapping them up like mummies, so that he can unleash the snake on Ruby? And why do it in the first place when everything else has gone wrong? You would think he would have taken the the first road out of Dodge. And where in the heck do 11 year old girls go home to empty homes, make their own dinners, ride their bikes miles to school, etc. etc. Not MY 11-year old! Ruby's final mission to find out what the heck is going on with the tutor leaves you shaking your head. Not very realistic or even imaginable in my mind. I can usually accept just about anything when it comes to plot, but not when it it hangs together so poorly. Don't waste your time on this poorly edited book.
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Format: Hardcover
Linda and Scott Gardner have hired an instructer from a tutoring service, Julian Sawyer, to privately tutor their son, Brandon, and help him improve his SAT scores. Brandon is all set to dislike Julian right from the get-go but never gets the chance. Hey, this guy is cool! Linda and Scott fall for the tutor's charm next, relying on him for car rides, business and financial advice, and tennis tips. Brandon's little sister, Ruby, age eleven, an outgoing little Sherlock fan, shares Brandon's feelings as well. But she's also brighter than her brother (or parents) and soon deduces that Julian is not everything he appears. While the rest of her family is cuddled in Julian's palm like a sparrow in the hand of the neighborhood bully, Ruby is sniffing along for clues in a manner even Sherlock Holmes couldn't knock.
THE TUTOR starts out strong. The pace is fast, the details interesting, the characters memorable. The middle isn't so bad either. But the ending bombs inexcusably -- perhaps because as the story progresses it becomes more and more out of this world. Peter Abrahams has created here a portfolio of surreal characters, more caricatures than flesh and blood people. Each one represents a certain weakness which Julian exploits to the hilt, although Julian himself has weaknesses, as every good villain must. There's a blurb on this book's jacket from Stephen King praising the author, and while Abrahams's style may briefly remind you of King's in the way it comes across as not quite on the level, Abrahams doesn't hold a candle to King's way with words. THE TUTOR is reasonably well written and contains some excellent descriptions, but most books are reasonably well written. Little here stands out.
Horror fans, be warned. You may not be horrified (unless snakes deeply upset you). But THE TUTOR is a stylishly crafted if skewed nailbiter tale, and as such should have a case with suspense fans.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I think I shall rave about this book for a little while--at least long enough to assuage the guilt over not simply giving it a five-star nod. I mean, how do you actually rate a novel that is a traditional thriller, but dares to remain understated, dares to avoid glitz, most of the way through? Ultimately, I think the author could have worked in a few more scenes of real mayhem and yet not degenerated to shlock, but since he didn't--since The Tutor is restrained, creeping terror without splatter til the late-going--I'm left trying to say it like this: for restrained, creeping terror in a domestic setting, I award the full five starrinos, but for not finding a way to work in a bit more splatter, I deduct one star, leaving a sort of phantom or ghost star.
Which means it's still well worth reading. Fans of Ramsey Campbell's Nazareth Hill should stop here, to meet another plucky adolescent girl who may be the only one clever enough to notice danger as it slowly infects her home (of course any brave child remotely resembling the heroine in Nazareth Hill, and finding herself in similar--but not supernatural--dire straits, is likely to win me over big-time). Fans of Stephen King's Misery should probably meet The Tutor; Peter Abrahams seems to have King's ability to create characters and situations presented in a style that compels you to read on and on and on until the book is suddenly finished (and they both do psychopaths very well, thank you). Fans of...well, heck, either Conan Doyle's "The Speckled Band", or Alan Scholefield's forgotten novel Venom (also a forgotten film!), should read The Tutor, if snakes don't actually make you shiver too much, that is.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not a big fan of books you can pick up at the train station, but this one drew me in with its quasi-literary style, as far as paperbacks go.
I have to agree that the characters in the family are mostly pretty flat, but the character of Julian was precisely the sort of misunderstood villain I like to read about. The story started off well, and like a good comic book, I found myself rooting for the bad guy, which is a good sign that either he's not a completely unrealistic bad guy, or the family is just so dull and unlikeable you actually prefer to be in the company of the villain.
After being swept into reading this book at any spare moment, I was tremendously disappointed by the ending. It seemed to me like Abrahams was on his way to writing a story that actually treats its villain with humanity for a change, but the editor got mad at the anti-heroic vagueries of such a plot, and instead ordered him to tack on a generic and uncharacteristic ending straight out of bad Hollywood where the bad guy goes crazy and the dull "innocent" family is only justified in getting rid of him.
On the positive side, the bad writing and underlying themes that even the author apparently did not catch on to served as great inspiration for my own writing, because reading this book couldn't help but make me think that audiences deserve better.
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