Tuesday, July 6, 2010

THEY'RE WATCHING - Gregg Hurwitz

FIRST LINE: "Navigating a hairpin turn, I gripped the steering wheel hard and did my best not to slide in the driver's seat."

Patrick is going through the motions of life; he can't imagine things growing any worse than they already are. Not long ago he was on top of the world. A famous screenwriter with a movie in the works. Now he's being sued by the movie production company for allegedly assaulting the star, and his bank accounts have literally been sucked dry by the lawyer defending him. His wife had an affair with the neighbor. And Patrick's only job option is that of a screenwriting teacher. As bad as his life is, it is nothing compared with the life he experiences once the first disc shows up in his newspaper.

In his latest page-turner, Hurwitz returns to the first person point of view he wielded so expertly in CRIME WRITER and TRUST NO ONE. While most readers won't be able to identify with Patrick as a famous screenwriter in Tinseltown, Hurwitz transcends that characteristic to connect with readers on a human level. I simply can't image any human resisting the intoxication of the drug Patrick falls victim to:
"And what if I say 'No'?"

"Then you'll never know."
And of course, this is traditionally one of Hurwitz's writing strengths, creating characters with which the reader can identify. Society is presently obsessed with "reality" everything. Hurwitz's art imitates just that:

"'There's no damn privacy anymore. It's like we all got used to it. Or we gave it away, bit by bit. Wiretapping laws. Citizen enemy combatants. Homeland Security looking up your nose. Not to mention all this reality shit. Girls Gone Wild. Crying politicians on YouTube. Spouses trash-talking on Dr. Phil. You can't even die in war anymore without every schmuck with a flat-screen watching the infrared footage. There's no...' His jaw shifted; his lips twitched, searching out the suitable term.' ...propriety.' He heaved out an agitated breath. 'You used to have to be famous to be famous. But now? It's all real. It's all fake. What's the god-damned fascination with monitoring everything, putting an eye up to every peephole?'"
Another strength in Hurwitz's writing is his attention to detail and the flow of that detail. It is never forced into the writing with awkward similes or ineffective metaphor. Instead his detail blends into the writing allowing the plot to continue moving at break-neck speed:

"I got back out and followed him across the front yard and into the kitchen. Dirty dishes, a dripping faucet, and a trash can overstuffed with bent pizza boxes. A strip-club magnet pinned a child's drawing to the fridge. A crayon depiction, nearly desperate in its cheer, portrayed a family of three, all stick figures, big heads, and oversize smiles. The requisite sun in the corner seemed the single spot of color in the dingy room."
In that simple paragraph Hurwitz not only develops the character living in that kitchen, but he also sets the tone of the scene. There isn't a much more powerful image than the contrast of the magnet and the child's drawing. It is that attention to detail that separates Hurwitz from most thriller writers.

And of course, Hurwitz is the master of pacing thrillers. What would a thriller be without the fast-moving plot filled with unexpected twists? I wouldn't be surprised to find out Hurwitz had monitored his early readers of this novel, checking heart rates. As soon as heart rates return to normal levels, he adds a twist. This is a book where the instant you start to feel comfortable, Hurwitz pulls the carpet out from under you. THEY'RE WATCHING is an incredible plot, quite possibly Hurwitz's best to date.

Gregg Hurwitz is on fire, and he only seems to be ramping up the heat with each new novel. THEY'RE WATCHING is white hot and should NOT be missed.

OR SHE DIES is presently available in the U.K. from Sphere in paperback (ISBN: 978-0-7515-4210-3) and as THEY'RE WATCHING today in the U.S. from St. Martin's Press (ISBN:978-0-3125-3490-5). If you check out Gregg's events calender here, you can make arrangements with one of his stops on the tour and get a signed copy of THEY'RE WATCHING. Those indie stores! They're cool like that.

In April, while I was in L.A. for the Festival of Books, I had the opportunity to interview Gregg about THEY'RE WATCHING. I will apologize up front as I made a bad call to film this in the shade. My sister said that I'm "protecting the identity of the innocent." And yes, I am. This botch is all mine and none of Gregg's. But the content is really quite good and I wanted you all to hear the passion with which Gregg talks about his work, so I'm opting to still include it here. And I promise you, it really IS Gregg Hurwitz!

Part 1:

Part 2:

The Pivot Questions:


Jenn's Bookshelves July 6, 2010 at 8:28 AM  

Thanks to you, I am now a diehard Hurwitz fan! I have THEY'RE WATCHING; I can't wait to get to it. So many books...so little time.

le0pard13 July 6, 2010 at 6:53 PM  

That was a great and fun interview. Makes me recall that time at the LAT FoB when you two were going off to do it [the interview, I mean ;-)]. I look forward now to Thursday night's launch party for the book with Gregg. Thanks, Jen!

Jen Forbus July 6, 2010 at 6:57 PM  

Michael! You are as bad as RC! And I can't wait to see pictures. :-) Thank YOU! You're the best!

Jenn, so happy to have hooked another one to the Hurwitz fan club! I know you'll really like this. Trish bought THE CRIME WRITER in L.A. so we have to see her reaction when she reads that one!

Poncho July 6, 2010 at 7:56 PM  

I loved the book (Wow, I now realize it's the first time I've read a book you review :D). I loved the pace, the descriptions, and the way Hurwitz managed to make me feel like everything hung from a thread, and I couldn't trust the next corner.

An amazing read, indeed. And the interview was nothing short of great.

Congrats, and thanks, Jen!

Jen Forbus July 9, 2010 at 6:27 AM  

Aww Poncho, you're wonderful! Thanks!

Anonymous July 10, 2010 at 3:22 AM  

Great interview, thanks!

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