DAY OF RECKONING by John Katzenbach
Kirkus Star


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Crudely manipulative but effective psycho-chills as Katzenbach (In the Heat of the Summer, 1982; The Traveler, 1987) trashes 1960's nostalgia by pitting a yuppie couple against the recalcitrant, monstrous 1960's radical they betrayed two decades before. Duncan and Megan Richards are living the American Dream, 1980's-style: upscale jobs as a banker (he) and real-estate agent (she) in a small Pennsylvania town; huge house filled with antiques, twin teen daughters Lauren and Karen, and emotionally disturbed but still cherished young son, Tommy. Dream crumbles into nightmare, however, with a blast from the past--a phone call from Olivia Barrow, back after 18 hard years in prison and now telling Duncan that she's just kidnapped his son and also his father-in-law, a retired judge also named Tommy. Her motive: revenge for that fatal day in 1968 when Duncan and Megan, then members of Olivia's radical cell, turned tail during a foiled bank heist that left three bank guards and four cell members dead--and Olivia in chains. Her demand: robbery by Duncan of the bank where he now works, or she'll kill the two Tommys--and if he goes to the cops, she reminds him, he'll wind up in jail, with the secret of his radical past exposed and no statute of limitations on homicide. Boxed in, Duncan robs his hank in a terrifically tense set-piece, then jumps through Olivia's sadistic hoops to deliver the money: but she still won't let the two Tommys go. As they resist heroically in the isolated house where Olivia and three accomplices have locked them up, Duncan and Megan boil in anger--until Megan locates the farmhouse and then buys an arsenal's worth of guns. The Richards will fight back!--and do, in a bloody, pull-out-the-stops finale. A remarkably well-oiled thriller-machine featuring plenty of bright red buttons that Katzenbach pushes to maximum effect in delivering a flag-waving, hippie-hating, mom-and-apple-pie-lovin' wild ride. You can almost hear the movie audiences standing up and cheering.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1989
ISBN: 399-13449-2
Publisher: Putnam
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