Aljean Harmetz Off the Face of the Earth

ISBN 13: 9780684836171

Off the Face of the Earth

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9780684836171: Off the Face of the Earth
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While a kidnapped boy bravely struggles to outwit his disturbed captor, the police charge a local schizophrenic with his murder, and his disbelieving mother appeals to a skeptical police officer for help. A first novel. 75,000 first printing. Tour.

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About the Author:

Aljean Harmetz covered Hollywood for the New York Times for twelve years. She left the paper in 1992 to write Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca. Her first book, The Making of the Wizard of Oz, has been honored as one of the hundred best books ever written about Hollywood. She is the mother of three children and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her dog, Gatsby.

Review:

Best of the beach reads! IF YOU SOBBED THROUGH JACQUELYN MITCHARD'S "The Deep End of the Ocean," you may want to take a breaker from novels about missing children. Consider making an exception, however, for Aljean Harmetz's "Off the Face of the Earth" (Scribner), about a young boy who runs away from home to scare his mom, and then disappears. Paced like a Hollywood thriller (which is only fitting for an author who once covered the film business for the New York Times), the story switches back and forth between the kidnapped boy-an eight-year-old with the wherewithal to leave clues at every truck stop and motel that his abductor takes him to-and his estranged parents, who pull together to organize a search. Set against the melting pot that is contemporary Los Angeles, Harmetz's tale is a terrifying but revealing take on the most universal of horror stories. ("Books by Sara Nelson," Glamour, June 30, 1997) -- Glamour

Familiar though we may be with the psychological profiles of pedophiles and murderers, we still can't help wondering what sort of person is driven to harm a child and how does the child attempt to make sense of his or her betrayal by the adult world? In her suspenseful first novel, A1jean Harmetz explores this question to powerful effect.

What lifts this book well above classic thriller fare, which is primarily concerned with plotting, are the chapters that explore David's reactions to his abduction and his relationship with his captor, a smooth-talking psychopath named Denver. With delicacy and skill, Ms. Harmetz captures the workings of the boy's mind as he struggles to adapt to his inhospitable circumstances:

Harmetz's expert pacing keeps the reader in a state of mounting anxiety. To Ms. Harmetz's credit, she avoids the expected motivation pedophilia and reaches for a source more psychologically complex and ultimately just as frightening.Because Harmetz manages to do the harder job of imagining the experience of both perpetrator and victim, her story lingers in the mind well after the reader has raced through its pages to the conclusion.

-- Jennifer Eagan, New York Times Book Review, September 14, 1997.

Scream Test: A movie journalist scores high with her own thriller tale

Aljean Harmetz, the Hollywood journalist and author of incisive books on the making of "Gone With the Wind" and "Casablanca" has tried her hand at fiction with a sizzling summertime thriller that, yes, cries out to be brought to the screen.

Its suspenseful plot guarantees a chilling escape from the summer heat, and the characters are drawn so crisply that you can't help imagining your own dream cast as you turn the pages.

Harmetz spins her tale with taut, wiry prose, and her pages are filled with insight and intrigue. You might have nightmares after reading this book, but you wont regret it.

-- Diane Cole, New York Daily News, August 2, 1997

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9780671004651: Off the Face of the Earth

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ISBN 10:  0671004654 ISBN 13:  9780671004651
Publisher: Pocket, 1998
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