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by John Wilson

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-688-15280-5
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

 Wilson's first US publication is an overblown British reworking of that all-American movie fantasy, the rape-revenge story. Hours after stellar student Lyndsey Barratt suffers the humiliation of receiving her drama-school diploma in the absence of her parents (her ineffectual father, who couldn't bear to be seen in public with her wheelchair-bound mother, begged off), she's suffering the torments of hell. The cricket team from nearby Winstanton School, flushed with their latest victory, has taken offense at her entrance to the railroad car they're occupying and has retaliated by raping and beating her. Nor will it do any good, despite the best attempts of British Transport Inspector Frank Illiffe, for Lyndsey to press charges: The jolly cricketers have already planted evidence to discredit her, and Illiffe's treacherous liaison officer is only too eager to help out a local HQ chief's boy and the other ten perps by tightening the legal noose around the victim. So Lyndsey, shepherded by her twin sister Linda, disappears from Hope Green Hospital, and the case, in the absence of a complainant, grinds to a halt. Justice, however, continues to grind exceeding small, and when the murder of one of the cricketers comes to Illiffe's attention years later--apparently he's the victim of an S&M scene that got out of hand--Illiffe wastes no time in linking it to a rash of dead cricketers. ``Ten members of a school cricket team dying within such a short time was definitely odd,'' muses Illiffe, who rushes to protect the life of the only surviving rapist, George (``Porgy'') Weston. En route to the splashy finale, Wilson leaves no button unpushed--there'll be pornographic videos, a miscarriage, and reams of computer lore--but it's hard to care about the outcome when the prospective victim is so loathsome and the meager surprises so eminently guessable. Reminiscent not so much of any earlier literary tradition as of slasher films from Sisters to I Spit on Your Grave.