Books by Tom Savage

SCAVENGER by Tom Savage
Released: Jan. 1, 2000

Life is good for Mark Stevenson. His new crime novel is a runaway bestseller, and he's about to marry his dream girl, Tracey Morgan, who has brains, beauty, and a big heart. What he should do when he's contacted by the weirdo who calls himself —Scavenger——a man who claims he can identify the even more shadowy —Family Man——is brush it off. Yet he can't, since his novel Dark Desire would not have existed without the Family Man. Ten years earlier this truly monstrous psychopath had gone on a ghastly spree, earning his media-fashioned moniker by slaughtering not just the odd victim here and there but entire families. Mark's research into the crimes had been intensive, and his fictional version of actual events, faithful and complete, except for the last piece of the puzzle: the madman's name. Now the Scavenger is offering to divulge, but only if indulged: Mark has to take a hand in a grotesque scavenger hunt, the final clue of which will lead him to his answer—that is, if he plays successfully. If he doesn't . . . there—ll be consequences. Of course, as he traces the path laid out for him, neither Mark nor his audience is likely to forget that the Family Man is still out there. Savage (The Inheritance, 1998, etc.) provides lots of plot and ingenuity to burn, but it's hard to care about a cast so full of stick figures too insubstantial to stand up in a stiff breeze. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 3, 1998

It purports to be a gothic novel, but any self-respecting gothic ought to generate a chill or two. This one doesn't. When we first meet incredibly beautiful Holly Smith—a figure firmly rooted in romance fiction'she's just discovered that she's not Holly Smith at all. She's Holly Randall. For reasons too complex to detail here, she was given away as a newborn to this nice California couple who raised her to be a proper middle-class girl with modest middle-class aspirations. Now, suddenly, she finds herself an heir to a great estate. Among a whole passel of worldly goods that she stands to inherit is the Randall manse, which, from a distance, looks "perfectly innocent." But "appearances are deceiving," we're told. Consider Catherine and John Randall—on the surface splendid, at the core obligatorily rotten. These are the Randalls whom Holly is usurping. It will surprise no one that they hate her. They decide in an eyeblink that a hit man is their sole sensible recourse, then set about hiring one. Actually, the general population of Randall House loves to hate, and loves to act mysteriously. Who, for instance, is that cowled person prowling the premises at night? Who is the strange young woman obsessively burying a totemic baby? Around these and other enigmatic figures the plot twists, tirelessly. But where there's no spark of life, there's nothing to raise a goosebump. Pedestrian prose, stilted dialogue, wooden and/or overfamiliar characters. In his third time out (Valentine, 1994; Precipice, 1995, etc.), Savage takes a step back. Read full book review >
VALENTINE by Tom Savage
Released: Feb. 5, 1996

Another slick if divinable suspenser from Savage (Precipice, 1994), Greenwich Village-set, in which a psychopath with a grudge stalks a young mystery writer. A malefic valentine card first alerts Jillian Talbot that her picture-perfect life may be in danger. More annoyed than terrified, however, she dismisses the hateful missive as the work of a disaffected fan. But while she's a whiz at plotting her own books, the best-selling author overlooks important clues the text provides readers in a series of set-piece flashbacks. At an Ivy League college some 15 years before, Jill briefly bonded with three campus queens known as the Elements. With her unwitting aid, these self- absorbed young beauties once visited sexual humiliation on an annoying outsider names Victor Dimorta, who was then expelled in the wake of this St. Valentine's Day escapade. The thoughtless prank unhinged Victor, who subsequently murdered his abusive parents and served 12 years in state prison on manslaughter charges. While behind bars, he vowed vengeance—and equipped himself to take it. Victor dropped from sight after parole, but three women subsequently met exotic ends on February 14, one in an unmarked grave (earth) and the others in a seemingly tragic skiing mishap (wind) and an apparently accidental blaze (fire). Oblivious Jill, who's not kept up with her former chums, is last on the madman's list. Eventually panicked into action by further messages that her end is near, the novelist, who's being spied upon by an unknown observer, hires a private detective. Convinced of her peril after his preliminary investigation, Jill flees to a remote writers' colony to wait out Valentine's Day. She doesn't disclose the hideaway's location on Long Island Sound even to her lover, a rising artist known as Nate Levin, but the villain will have no trouble finding the jolted Jill. . . . A stylish literary entertainment in which the resourceful Savage plays completely fair (or almost) with readers impatient for an immediate solution to his crafty puzzle. Read full book review >
PRECIPICE by Tom Savage
Released: Jan. 18, 1994

A cool, smart, and stylish first thriller—St. Thomas-set—of murder plot and counterplot that features a major twist in nearly every one of its 18 tightly woven chapters. After a preface set 20 years back, detailing the discovery by a Long Island postman of a dead woman and, clutching a knife and saying, ``I killed her,'' her bloodstained little girl, Savage moves to today's Caribbean. Right away, we read that ``The idea of murder, once formed in her mind, simply would not go away.'' In whose mind? Well, many readers will ignore the ellipses at the end of the first paragraph and, going on to read that ``Kay watched the girl from her chaise lounge...,'' will assume that the potential murderess is Kay—though it's soon revealed that Kay is the intended victim, and ``the girl'' the killer—just one tiny way in which Savage plays with prose-and-plot conventions to spin expectations around. The girl, a young beauty calling herself Diana Meissen (like most everyone here, she's not who she claims), gets herself hired as governess to Kay's daughter—and that night is kissing Kay's handsome, middle-aged husband, Adam: ``I wanted so much to call you....'' Are Diana and Adam planning to kill Kay? So it seems—especially when Adam commits a series of robbery-slayings in order to blame Kay's death on a homicidal thief. But how do these killings relate to identical ones ten and twenty years before? How do they tie in with the young man, allegedly a real- estate developer, who's spying on Diana? Or with the girl who held the knife years ago? Surprise piles upon surprise, logically, convincingly, until all secrets—revolving around an old family horror—are resolved in a climax that owes a debt to Greek tragedy. Not so much suspenseful as intellectually satisfying: a finely wrought, unusually clever literary debut—and a natural for the movies. Read full book review >