ADRENALINE by Bill Eidson


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Twisted exercise in melodrama involving dueling yuppies--one good, the other conveniently psychotic—making mayhem in the boardrooms and boatyards surrounding Boston. Eidson’s fourth thriller (The Guardian, 1996, etc.) is his most compact yet. Steve Dern, the good yuppie, works tirelessly for the conglomerate Jantsen Enterprises in a picturesque boat/office that he shares with perfect wife Lisa, who comforts him through his nightmares relating to the death of a friend—a death he feels responsible for. Geoff Mann, the bad yuppie who clawed his way to the top of Jantsen’s San Francisco operations (the opening scene of Mann challenging a bicycle messenger to a no-brakes downhill bicycle race is as satisfying as any Bond movie teaser), is all nerve and nastiness. A compulsive risk-taker whose cravings for excitement lead him into questionable financial deals, Mann comes to Boston hoping for a promotion that will tip his bank balance into the black. During a tour of the city’s tenderloin district, Mann, who’s also a karate master, blithely saves a prostitute, Carly, from her sadistic pimp, who vows revenge. When Dern gets the promotion, Mann also vows revenge. He kills his boss, plus a few others who get in his way, and gets Carly to help him kidnap Dern’s wife. Meanwhile, sensibility problems stall the story: If Mann’s irreverent wickedness is fueled by his fear of being bored, as he tells Carly, then how could he have ever endured the diffident corporate environment in which worker-bee Dern so happily thrives? And why must the hold-your-breath underwater climax require Dern to learn to take risks, if only so that he can atone for the traumatic failure that has given him nightmares all these years? Despite some terrific scenes involving stylish ultraviolence, and a passing appreciation for corporate chicanery and the life on Boston’s low seas: a suspenser ultimately stranded by shallow characterizations and soggy plotting.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-86600-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998


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