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You're Next    by Gregg Hurwitz order for
You're Next
by Gregg Hurwitz
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Gregg Hurwitz has hovered at the very top of my list of favorite thriller writer since I read The Kill Clause and The Program in 2004. In addition to his series centered on U.S. Marshall/ex-Army Ranger Tim Rackley and his tough Deputy wife Dray, Hurwitz has delivered superb standalones - The Crime Writer, Trust No One and last year's They're Watching. He does it again with You're Next.

Mike Wingate has never forgiven his father for abandoning him to foster care at the age of four. Worse, he suspects (based on the blood he remembers seeing on his dad's shirt) that his father had killed his mother. However, despite the bad years in foster care, Mike has moved past his painful childhood to an idyllic life. Happily married to Annabel, with a beloved (and precocious) eight-year-old daughter Kat, he has built a successful construction business. The pinnacle of his success is Green Valley, 'a community of ecological houses' that garners media attention.

That's when his troubles begin - and they escalate fast. Mike learns that a subcontractor installed PVC pipes instead of vitrified clay all through his project, which would violate his environmental license and take away state subsidies, not only from Mike's company but from the homeowners who've bought into Green Valley. Though Mike wants to fix the problem, the politicians pressure him to hide it. While this goes on, readers are introduced to the two sadistic thugs - William and Dodge - who will soon enter Mike's life, as they torture a man and his wife as an example to others.

While in foster care, Mike befriended Shep, who was partially deaf and badly bullied for it. They got into trouble together, but Mike eventually straightened himself out and was heading for college - until a favor for Shep landed him in jail. Afterwards Mike changed his name and worked hard to make a new life, while Shep continued on the wrong side of the law. So when William and Dodge threaten Mike and his family - and the authorities inexplicably seem suspicious of Mike rather than helpful - he calls on his old friend.

Mike ends up a fugitive on the run, his name flagged to all law enforcement agencies by a counterterrorist agency. He has only two allies - Shep and a PI, Hank Danville, whom he previously hired to find his father and who is dying of cancer. Mike has no idea what it's all about but is determined to find out who is after him, and why these violent men have such high connections and seem to know more about his past than he does.

When a clear picture finally emerges, it's a remarkable one you will not see coming, and with an ending that confirms Gregg Hurwitz as one of my top three thriller writers. You're Next is the best of the genre I've read this year to date - don't miss it!

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