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by Peter Abrahams
William Morrow, March 2007
320 pages
ISBN: 0061137979

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In most of Peter Abrahams' novels (THE TUTOR, THEIR WILDEST DREAMS) the author takes ordinary individuals and puts them in extraordinary situations that will test them in ways that they could not imagine. That is the case that Ray Valois, a famous sculptor and widower, finds himself in.

He has recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a pulmonary cancer, and he wlll be lucky if he survives another year. He does not want to wallow in self-pity, he's a fighter and he does what he needs to do in order to try to get better. Still, he cannot help and wonder to see what the world will read about him after he is gone. Will they know about his most important achievements? Will they remember that he scored the winning goal in an infamous college game?

Valois manages to enroll a computer hacker to break into the obituary files of THE NEW YORK TIMES to see what it says about him. What Valois does not realize is that this is going to reactivate a 15-year-old conspiracy, one that certain people want silenced and are more than willing to help Valois die sooner than expected.

It all starts with an alleged misprint involving Valois' dead wife's employer. Valois' obituary reads that she worked for the United Nations and not for a government think-tank as he once thought. Valois is a perfectionist when it comes to his sculpture and he does not like the idea that his obituary is not going to be completely accurate. When he starts doing something about it, people start to be killed for what they know. Could it be possible that his wife Delia is still alive? If so, where is she? Also, what is the Hobbes Institute? Could it be a front for something even more sinister?

Abrahams ratchets the book's suspense as the bull-headed sculptor continues to plod along trying to find out the truth about his wife Delia. He does not have much time left so he has nothing left to lose. It is a bit predictable when it comes to identifying the bad guys in the book early in the game, but that is what makes NERVE DAMAGE a bit more fun. Except for one brutal assassin, none of the characters act over the top. The characters inside the book behave as other people actually would if faced with the same situations.

One of the book's weaknesses is the way things are wrapped up. Readers do not get much of a chance to absorb what actually happened since it is revealed mostly by the book's end. Despite this, NERVE DAMAGE is still a good read. It is hard for an author of Peter Abrahams' caliber to disappoint.

Reviewed by Angel L. Soto, March 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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