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Peter Blauner
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The Intruder
hardcover
396 pages
Jacob Schiff is a successful Manhattan attorney. His wife, Dana, a psychiatric social worker, offers help and hope to a mentally disturbed homeless man named John Gates. When his feelings for Dana turn obsessional, Gates begins to stalk the family, generating violent confrontations and threats. The police offer no real solutions and so Schiff makes the mistake of his life: he recruits a day-laborer/street enforcer, Philip Cardi, to warn the homeless man off. But Cardi, in pursuit of Gates, brutalizes and kills another homeless man. In response, Gates, who witnesses the crime, runs away, leaving Schiff to face a murder charge on his own. The scenes of violence are horrifyingly real, rendered in stark imagery that marks Blauner as a genuine stylist. Adept characterization makes the violence even more effective, as Blauner constructs Schiff as a decent, intelligent, caring man who learns that his friends aren't friends, his associates don't care and that he and his family must slay dragons alone. The final scene, in which the Schiffs face off against an infuriated killer, is a tour de force of savagery. There is a lot of button-pushing going on here: a crazed homeless man and a bully from Bensonhurst make easy targets; the Schiffs make obvous victims/heroes.

Despite all that it speaks volumes about the author's skills that it is still an engaging novel, and one book you're actually find hard to put down. Albeit it with a somewhat somber mood, as it's hardly a cheerfull tale..

Recommended!
8/10
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