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It is the end of summer when two best-friend couples set out for a long weekend at their country home, a sheep farm, for a few days of hunting and relaxing. Dray and Portia, exuberant, playful, and wildly in love, have been friends with Bill and Clair since college. Despite a recent separation, Bill and Clair have fallen back in love and are more attached than ever. The four are loyally devoted to each other, bonded for life in friendship they wouldn't trade for anything in the world. A weekend together seems like the perfect way to close out the summer.
But there are demons lurking in those woods, and the couples have no idea how much danger they are in. Waking early on Saturday morning, Bill and Dray leave their sleeping wives to go duck hunting. Back at the house, Clair and Portia lounge by the pool. When their sheep are picked up for slaughter, two violent local laborers walk into the seemingly peaceful setting. Within moments, Clair and Portia are abducted, leaving an empty house for their husbands to return to. In the terrifying hours that follow, Clair finds herself battling demons in her past in order to fight her brutal kidnapers, while Dray and Bill follow their trail, using real-life survival skills in the fatal hunt for their missing wives.
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An initially crisp and involving literary thriller, this first novel in 15 years by the author of, among others, Stay Hungry (not reviewed) and Dangler (1980) unfortunately devolves into a high- pitched and pretentious macho bloodbath. It begins when Bill Joyce and Dray(ton) Hurley, best buddies and designers of an adult pursuit-and-capture outdoor game that has made them rich, bring their wives--Clair and Portia, respectively- -to their hideaway in the New Hampshire woods for a holiday weekend of duck-hunting, drinking, and friendly one-upmanship. In fact, it begins promisingly, as Gaines expertly contrasts the well-born, contemplative Bill and the gruff extrovert Dray, and works into the narrative several subtle foreshadowings of the very real violence that awaits them and their women. The novel's lean energies begin to dissipate as its plot thickens, with the introduction of redneck townie Red Sizemore and his slow-witted cousin Bucky. Deliverance, the reader murmurs--and he'll soon begin muttering Straw Dogs, Rain Man, and Duel in the Sun, among other sardonic apostrophes, as the body count increases and the wit diminishes. Red, you see, has a passion for opera (and for all the Finer Things his hardscrabble life has denied him), along with the hots for Clair--who, during a prior solo visit to their cabin in the woods, had been irresistibly drawn to the burly Red, who now means to renew their mutual passion no matter what it takes. Okay, it isn't really that bad. Gaines does write economically and convincingly of the details and tactics of both hunting and being hunted, and may have been onto something (that, unfortunately, remains only half-developed) in his portrait of Clair, a former actress who still lives partially in a world of her own creation. But by the time the ambulances arrive, you'll be reaching for the nearest Barbara Pym. This is the kind of novel that rips your arm off and beats you over the head with it. Now if that's your pleasure. . . . -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
Bill and Claire Joyce and Dray and Portia Hurley have been friends for more than 20 years, through business ventures, family crises, and personal tragedy. Bill and Dray have recently grown rich by franchising the "survival game," a variation of capture-the-flag played with paint guns. During an idyllic fall getaway to New Hampshire, a local named Red Sizemore kidnaps Claire and Portia, forcing Dray and Bill to focus their survival-game knowledge on a life-or-death matter. Gaines' first novel in 15 years offers unsettling, nonstop suspense, relentless pace, well-drawn characters, vivid landscape, and crackling dialogue. Even though the character of Red Sizemore is not completely developed, the other characters are morally complex; none of them, not even Red, are cardboard cutouts representing good or evil. More than a violent, action-packed woodland thriller, Survival Games effectively warns readers of the dire consequences of neglecting family and loved ones. John Rowen
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Book Description New York, New York, U.S.A.: Atlantic Monthly Pr, 1997. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. Seller Inventory # 527
Book Description Atlantic Monthly Pr, 1997. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0871136848
Book Description Atlantic Monthly Pr. Condition: New. New dust jacket. Seller Inventory # K13K-00542
Book Description Atlantic Monthly Pr, 1997. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1st. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0871136848n