Picks and Pans Review: Afterburn

UPDATED 03/13/2000 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/13/2000 at 01:00 AM EST

by Colin Harrison

Page-turner of the week

Charlie Ravich and Christina Welles are at turning points, those rare instants when a single step can obliterate a life as completely as an avalanche. For Charlie—multimillionaire CEO, 58-year-old family man and decorated former Air Force pilot—that moment arrives when he discovers that his daughter and only surviving offspring is infertile. Desperate to feel that something of himself will endure, Charlie surreptitiously advertises for a stranger to bear and rear another child for him. For Christina, 27, a brainy Barnard dropout sprung from prison after serving four years of a larceny-related sentence, the crucial instant is meeting Charlie. When the pair's paths collide, both their worlds will change far more radically than either could have imagined in this stunning, and at times savage, thriller.

As in his three previous suspense novels, Harrison's painterly prose plunges readers into a nightmarish New York City where there is no honor among thieves and even less among family. But as Christina tries to elude her past and Charlie to outrun his future, Harrison ignites an exhilarating Roman candle of hope. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25)

Bottom Line: Ferociously good fireworks

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