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A debut thriller set in a Texas prison by a young British psychiatrist who has never been to Texas, or to a prison. Nevertheless, the book's description of life in Green River, a mythical maximum security prison, is frighteningly convincing. The plot, however, is action-movie simple. A once-idealistic warden causes a race riot to shake up the corrupt system. This happens to take place the day before Ray Klein, a marshal-arts-obsessed doctor who was set up on rape charges, is due out on parole. Worse yet, the love of his life, a tough-as-nails visiting forensic psychiatrist, is trapped in the AIDS ward, and Klein must find a way to save his damsel in distress, as well as his adopted patients, before they are killed by the bad guys -- an all-star team of white psychopaths. Klein does this with the help of his colorful sidekicks, most of whom are equally innocent men unjustly forced into prison by the cruel world. These sidekicks are all cut from the best-supporting-actor mold: the simple-minded giant, the sensitive black boxer, the gruff but caring lifer. Just to show that he is no mere schlock writer, Willocks then mixes in some watered-down and bombastic Foucault-sounding pontification on good and evil, discipline and punishment, and death and dying. But don't worry -- brutal violence is always just a page away. In Willocks's prison, everything comes down to the good versus the bad, literally black versus white, with the blacks being good and the whites bad. But forceful writing somehow pulls the plot along, and, despite all of its flaws, including the silly and improbable sex scenes, Green River Rising is a fierce read. Realize that you are ingesting gobs of junk artfully disguised as gourmet fare, then dive in and enjoy.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1994
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Morrow