by Peter Abrahams
Ballantine, June, 2002.
Hardcover, 353 pages.
Julian Sawyer appears to be a saint to Scott and Linda Gardner. Originally hired to tutor their son, Brandon, to raise Brandon's low SAT scores, Julian quickly becomes a fixture around the Gardner household as he helps with last-minute chores, tennis coaching, business advice, stock tips and more. Unfortunately, although Julian is as smart and skilled as he appears to be, he can also be quite dangerous. Having already charmed the rest of the family, it is up to the youngest family member, Ruby, a sharp eleven year-old girl and avid Sherlock Holmes reader, to determine the strange tutor's diabolical plans for the family.
Abrahams, author of Crying Wolf, A Perfect Crime< and The Fan, excels at characterization, and he succeeds here by telling this excellent psychological thriller from the viewpoint of each of the characters in turn. Abrahams turns what might be a fairly ordinary plot in the hands of a lesser writer into a captivating story that will have you rooting for young Ruby to discover Julian's secrets in time to save the family. Ruby's internal dialogue is very entertaining, especially when she is pretending that she is as clever as Sherlock Holmes. Ruby diligently practices becoming aware of minute and ordinary details in her surroundings -- a method Holmes refers to as the observation of trifles. Watching her solve the mysteries surrounding Julian the tutor is fascinating. The inner dialogue of the deranged, but devilishly smart Julian is gripping, and quite frightening. Abrahams does a superb job of building the suspense as the battle of wills between Julian and Ruby escalates. Highly Recommended.
The Tutor is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the September, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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