t was a casual selection, this book on Maya’s dollar rack. I like trains so the title caught me. Read the flap, thought meh, then decided at the last second to pick it up. Just a buck, right?
After that, it sat on the bottom of the bedroom stack for long dusty months, occasionally unearthed, pondered, and meh, back it went. Finally, a couple of weeks back, I cracked the cover.
Here’s the deal – poor Charles Schine rides the 8:43 into New York every day, bemoaning his stalled (and increasingly depressing) life. Then one day, he catches a slightly later train. On cue, there she is.
She’s dark and sexy and competent, all the things Charles is aching for. They start up a conversation. She covers his fare when he forgets to get his ticket. He even punches out a crude drunk in a bar when he calls her a name (yes, they are sharing a drink in a bar now. It’s getting to be one of those relationships). And finally they decide on a little bed-romp in a seedy Manhattan hotel. And that’s when the bomb drops.
I won’t say what happens to poor Charles. It was literally (as only a book can be, all puns intended) horrific. How could it get worse? And as I stagger a few pages away, suddenly, it gets worse.
And worse and worse and worse. After a while I found myself trying to get ahead of the author, thinking what else might go bad, but no, James Siegel would slip around me every time, throwing me for a loop, over and over.
I loved this book. It’s usually not my field, the modern relationship thriller, but this one held me in its grip until the absolute last page. Wonderful.
This puppy is a decade old now, (C) 2003. You might be able to find it in the library stacks, possibly. I doubt you’ll pull off my Used Bookstore coupe. But if you know me and am curious, let me know and I’ll share it.
Simply put, I want to watch your expression while you tumble down the steps leading Charles Schine to hell.