by Gregg Hurwitz
RT Book Reviews’ Seal of Excellence
“I’m going to run out of adjectives describing Hurwitz’s thriller. Chilling, heart stopping, breathtaking, horrifically violent and surprisingly tender at times, the story of a man on the run from a past he never had access to is physically and emotionally exhausting, in the best possible way.” RT BOOK REVIEWS
Mike Wingate had a rough childhood – he was abandoned at a playground at four years old and raised in foster care. No one ever came to claim him and he has only a few, fragmented memories of his parents. Now, as an adult, Mike is finally living the life he had always wanted – he’s happily married to Annabel, the woman of his dreams, they have a precocious 8-year-old daughter Kat, and his construction company is about to finish a “green” housing development that will secure a solid future for them all. Then the unimaginable happens – something from Mike’s own past, a past he doesn’t even remember, comes back to visit terror upon him and his family.
Menacing characters show up and begin threatening Mike and, when he reports them, the police seem more interested in Mike’s murky past than in investigating or protecting the young family. Now, with Mike, his wife and their daughter suddenly under attack from all sides, Mike must turn to Shep, a truly dangerous man – and Mike’s only true friend – from their childhood days together in foster care. Together, the two of them will do whatever it takes to protect Mike’s family against the hidden men behind the terrifying warning, “You’re Next!”
The four- year- old boy stirs in the backseat of the station wagon, his body little more than a bump beneath the blanket draped over him, his hip sore where the seat belt’s buckle presses into it.
He sits up, rubbing his eyes in the morning light, and looks around, confused.
The car is pulled to the curb, idling beside a chain- link fence.
His father grips the steering wheel, his arms shaking. Sweat tracks down the band of flushed skin at the back of his neck.
The boy swallows to wet his parched throat. “Where . . .where’s momma?”
His father takes a wheezy breath and half turns, a day’s worth of stubble darkening his cheek. “She’s not . . . She can’t . . . She’s not here.”
Then he bends his head and begins to cry. It is all jerks and gasps, the way someone cries who isn’t used to it.
Beyond the fence, kids run on cracked asphalt and line up for their turn on a rusted set of swings. A sign wired to the chain- link proclaims, IT’S MORNING AGAIN IN AMERICA: RONALD REAGAN FOR PRESIDENT.
The boy is hot. He looks down at himself. He is wearing jeans and a long- sleeved T-shirt, not the pajamas he’d gone to bed in. He tries to make sense of his father’s words, the unfamiliar street, the blanket bunched in his lap, but can focus on nothing except the hollowness in his gut and the rushing in his ears.
“This is not your fault, champ.” His father’s voice is high-pitched, uneven. “Do you understand me? If you remember . . . one thing . . . you have to remember that nothing that happened is your fault.”
He shifts his grip on the steering wheel, squeezing so hard his hands turn white. His shirt cuff has a black splotch on it.
The sound of laughter carries to them; kids are hanging off monkey bars and crawling around the beat- up jungle gym.
“What did I do?” the boy asks.
“Your mother and I, we love you very much. More than anything.”
His father’s hands keep moving on the steering wheel. Shift, squeeze. Shift, squeeze. The shirt cuff moves into direct light, and the boy sees that the splotch isn’t black at all.
It is bloodred.
His father hunches forward and his shoulders heave, but he makes no sound. Then, with apparent effort, he straightens back up. “Go play.”
The boy looks out the window at the strange yard with the strange kids running and shrieking.
“Where am I?”
“I’ll be back in a few hours.”
His father still doesn’t turn around, but he lifts his eyes to the rearview, meets the boy’s stare for the first time. In the reflection his mouth is firm, a straight line, and his pale blue eyes are steady and clear.
“I promise,” he says.
The boy just sits there.
His father’s breathing gets funny. “Go,” he says, “play.”
The boy slides over and climbs out. He walks through the gate, and when he pauses to look back, the station wagon is gone.
Kids bob on seesaws and whistle down the fireman’s pole. They look like they know their way around.
One of the kids runs up and smacks the boy’s arm. “You’re it!” he brays.
The boy plays chase with the others. He climbs on the jungle gym and crawls in the yellow plastic tunnel, jostled by the bigger kids and doing his best to jostle back. A bell rings from the facing building, and the kids fly off the equipment and disappear inside.
The boy climbs out of the tunnel and stands on the playground, alone. The wind picks up, the dead leaves like fingernails dragging across the asphalt. He doesn’t know what to do, so he sits on a bench and waits for his father. A cloud drifts across the sun. He has no jacket. He kicks the leaves piled by the base of the bench. More clouds cluster overhead. He sits until his rear end hurts.
Finally a woman with graying brown hair emerges through the double doors. She approaches him, puts her hands on her knees. “Hi there.”
He looks down at his lap.
“Right,” she says. “Okay.”
She glances across the abandoned playground, then through the chain- link, eyeing the empty parking spots along the curb.
She says, “Can you tell me who you belong to?”
Awards & Accolades
Instant International Bestseller
Richard and Judy Book Club pick
Reader’s Choice Winner, Richard and Judy Spring Book Club
Top Ten Sunday Times Bestseller
Top 20 international bestseller — 3 months
Top 50 international bestseller — 5 months
3.5 out of 4 stars from People Magazine
RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence
Shortlisted for Galaxy National Book Award
Shortlisted for RUSA’s 2012 Reading List
Best Book of 2011 by Library Journal
Best of 2011 in Crime by Amazon UK
Best of 2011 in Crime Fiction by January Magazine
Best Book of the Year by Global Traveler
“A first-rate thriller.”
LIBRARY JOURNAL (STARRED REVIEW)
“Hurwitz masterfully provokes feelings of extreme dread.”
“Hurwitz turns in another excellent performance, keeping Mike (and the reader) on edge, wondering what is happening to him and how far it will escalate.”
“A thriller that grabs readers by the seat of the pants and gives them a Wow, what next! action thrill ride.”
“I’m going to run out of adjectives describing Hurwitz’s thriller. Chilling, heart stopping, breathtaking, horrifically violent and surprisingly tender at times, the story of a man on the run from a past he never had access to is physically and emotionally exhausting, in the best possible way.”
RT BOOK REVIEWS
“YOU’RE NEXT is an emotionally evocative, page-turning exploration of human corruption at its very worst. Chilling and riveting!”
“YOU’RE NEXT is a deft, expertly plotted thriller driven by the kind of realistic suspense that will make any reader’s heartbeat race.”
“You hold your breath a little more with each passing chapter. If there’d been one more I hate to think what would have happened to me. The book throttles along so quickly it should come with an air bag. Hurwitz ramps up the tension with every page.”
“Opening this book is like sticking your hand in a vice – once in, you’re gripped and you can’t get out…this is good old-fashioned thriller-writing at its best.”
RICHARD AND JUDY BOOK CLUB
“One of the best thrillers I’ve read in 2011.”
“Page-turning suspense from start to finish. Mike Wingate and his family are plunged into a nightmare when a pair of psychopathic contract killers are hired to murder them all.”
THE DAILY EXPRESS
“Hurwitz delivers non-stop thrills and a thoroughly original denouement.”
“This fast-paced thriller will have you gripped from the moment you open it.”
NO. 1 MAGAZINE
“Expertly constructed…tension by the bucket load”
CRIME AND PUBLISHING
“This thriller has everything – heightened action, fast-paced plot, well-rounded characters”
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
“…as suspenseful and as all important as any thriller you will read this year. The stakes are the highest you’ll ever read.”
“A tightly plotted thriller that will blow your hair back, knock your socks off and, if you’re not careful, steal your heart.”
“You will not let anything get between you and the end of the book. It’s full of action and suspense, and stuffed with a great mystery as well, though at heart it’s about friendship, loyalty, keeping promises, and — most of all — parenthood. But before you start reading, please get a cardiac examination first.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared by fictional villains. These guys literally had me double checking my locks at night!”
RT BOOK REVIEWS
“Seriously — this book is AMAZING. At times I was reading it with my hand partially over my eyes.”
RT SEAL OF EXCELLENCE
“The lovely pacing and slowly revealing panorama make YOU’RE NEXT a great summertime read.”
B&N BOOK REVIEW
“YOU’RE NEXT — in line for a sleepless night — when you read this smart and relentless thriller….Hurwitz starts the pressure early and never, never lets up. His believable and sympathetic characters are easy for us to cheer on. Grade: A.”
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER
“Beautifully written…if the ending doesn’t bring on the full water works, or at least a slight misting of the eyes, you might want to double check that you didn’t already lose your heart on the way there.”
NEW MYSTERY READER
“Gregg Hurwitz sets up a compelling puzzle…Readers will be satisfied with and surprised by the conspirators.”
“This riveting thriller will leave you stunned and amazed…Hurwitz is an excellent wordsmith and YOU’RE NEXT is one of his best accomplishments.”
“The ability to turn pages is certainly part of the appeal of YOU’RE NEXT, which takes us on Mike’s journey to reconstruct his past in order to save his future..”
“YOU’RE NEXT reads like a film screenplay: Hurwitz keeps his heroes on the move, regularly building to suspense scenes, and it’s easy to cast the book with A-list actors.”
“Hurwitz is one of the pre-eminent thriller writers today. YOU’RE NEXT is both heart-wrenching and pulse-pounding. It should be your next book to read.”
LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR
“YOU’RE NEXT is a smart, tension-filled suspense novel that will leave you admiring Hurwitz’s writing and looking over your shoulder.”
UTAH DAILY HERALD
“The kind of thriller that … in many ways defines the genre.”
REVIEWING THE EVIDENCE
“Like so many good thrillers, this one is based on secrets and fear. And from the first chapter – where a father abandons his four-year-old son in an empty playground – this story manages to be a perfect blend of engrossing and unsettling.”
THE SOUTHLAND TIMES
“Hurwitz is a virtuoso thriller writer … [his novels] generally entangle an ordinary guy with an interesting back story in madly complicated and hair-raisingly dangerous scrapes. Here as always his central character is terrifically likable and believable.”
SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT
“There aren’t many writers better than Gregg Hurwitz at portraying the common man going up against malicious forces. The sense of desperation and courage under fire elevate YOU’RE NEXT to page-turner status.”
“Hurwitz weaves an original story filled with unique characters.”
“Hurwitz, a master at putting ordinary people in deep jeopardy and getting them out again, keeps us on our toes, never quite sure what’s going on, looking over our shoulders in case there’s another surprise sneaking up on us….If you like sharply plotted thrillers with well-drawn characters, Hurwitz should be on your must-read list.”
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
“Try finishing YOU’RE NEXT without crying.”
LA REVIEW OF BOOKS