Friday, November 9, 2012

Y is for YOU'RE NEXT by Gregg Hurwitz

In the penultimate week of the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme, run once more by the terrific Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise, we are of course faced with sharing some crime ficiton-related content surrounding the letter 'Y'.

This week, I thought I would focus on one of my favourite 'new to me' thriller writers I have discovered since I began reviewing crime fiction for various publications around the world about three years ago (and therefore reading much more widely) - a book by an author I have really enjoyed reading, interviewing, meeting, and writing about: YOU'RE NEXT by Gregg Hurwitz.

After writing high-octane, high-concept thrillers involving serial killers in underground prisons, cults, and more in his earliest work, Hurwitz has increasingly written more 'domestic pageturners' in recent books - tales where seemingly ordinary folk get caught up in the scariest moments of their lives. For me, Hurwitz is one of those authors who doesn't just engage your brain as you follow and enjoy the unfolding story, but actually he really does engage your emotions. I remember reading OR SHE DIES back in 2009, and actually 'feeling' my body react as the characters went through various travails. It wasn't just mentally 'tense', it was emotionally so too. Hurwitz is a writer I recommend to friends who like pacy thrillers that have some interesting character insight too. Using the old library 'if you like this, try this...' thing, I'd say that fans of Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay, amongst others, would really enjoy Hurwitz.

Turning to YOU'RE NEXT (published last year), here's a backcover blurb:
Mike Wingate, abandoned by his father at four and raised in foster care, is finally living the life he always dreamed of—he’s happily married with a precocious 8-year-old daughter, and his construction company is about to finish a “green” housing development that will secure a solid future for them all. But then something from his own past, a past he doesn’t even remember, comes back to visit terror upon him and his family.

Shady characters begin threatening Mike and, when he reports them, the police seem more interested in Mike’s murky past than in protecting him. Now, with Mike, his wife Annabel and daughter Kat suddenly under attack from all sides, Mike turns to Shep, a dangerous man—and Mike’s only true friend— from his childhood days in foster care. Together they will do whatever it takes to protect Mike’s family against the hidden men behind the terrifying warning, “You’re Next.”
I interviewed Hurwitz for a feature article in the New Zealand Herald (the biggest newpaper in our country) early last year, and talked to him then about YOU'RE NEXT. Here's a snippet of what he had to say about focusing on 'ordinary people' like Mike in his later books:

“As I got older I started to have an even greater appreciation for those classic suspenseful set-ups, looking at an ordinary man, where you catch him on the worst day of his life,” says Hurwitz, who was raised in a household where the only things watched on TV were Red Sox games and Alfred Hitchcock movies. “With Mike I want people to relate to him as a guy under pressure, as a father, as a husband. I really like depicting what happens to people and relationships under extreme pressure. We’ve all felt intimidated, we’ve all felt overwhelmed, we’ve all felt like we’re not sure if we can stand up to something at different times in our lives. One of the things I’m trying to do in my thrillers is to take everyday pressures we’ve all felt, and then magnify that by 1000 per cent.”
For me, Hurwitz certainly succeeded with YOU'RE NEXT, which is a gripping page-turner, full of real emotional tension. To read my full New Zealand Herald feature article about Gregg Hurwitz, click here. You can also read my 9mm interview with Hurwitz here.

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