Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Books: Savage Lane by Jason Starr

Savage Lane is another triumphant crime novel by thriller master Jason Starr—this time dealing satirically with the rot in American suburbia. At the center of most of the drama is Karen Daily, a teacher and hot divorcee raising her kids and not necessarily looking for a new partner. Her neighbor and close friend is Mark Berman, who’s a little too obsessed with spending time with her and considering their future together. Mark is trapped in an unhappy marriage with Deb, who has a thing on the side with charismatic recent high school grad Chris.

Everyone thinks they know what everyone else wants—is anyone ever right about that? In Mark’s mind, Karen is longing for the day he’ll leave Deb and propose to her. In public, Deb begs Mark to keep their marriage going and fights with him over his time with Karen. In private, she lets Chris abuse her and get a little too attached. When everyone does act on their most intimate feelings, the results are not what anyone imagines, and leads to absolute ruin for more than one of our players. Deb and Karen catfight on the floor of the country club, in plain view of recording cell phones. Chris’s dangerous past is exposed. And Mark has his dreams and comfortable life shattered, one defeat at a time. Even worse, not everyone makes it out alive.

Starr is an expert at putting his characters under inexorable pressure, then letting them simmer to see what happens. It’s almost humorous how ridiculous it all is … what people are sure of in their own minds that has nothing to do with reality. But it’s fun to watch everyone squirm. A wicked, tightly-plotted story with human characters and more than a few surprises. Recommended.

Rating: **** stars out of 5

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