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IN BRIEF

Fiction

June 02, 1996|ERIKA TAYLOR

THE INTRUDER by Peter Blauner (Simon & Schuster: $23; 410 pp.). As wonderful as literary fiction can be, there is nothing like a good thriller and "The Intruder," Peter Blauner's third novel, is exactly that. Part psychological drama and part traditional page turner, this is the story of how one man's efforts to protect his family from a delusional, homeless crack addict almost cost him his life.

Jake Schiff is a successful defense attorney with a Manhattan townhouse, a happy marriage, and--unlike the characters in much genre fiction--a complex, distinctive personality. His wife, Dana, is a psychiatric social worker. When one of Dana's patients begins stalking Jake's family, he tries obtaining help from all the traditional avenues. Nothing works. Finally, in desperation, he makes an ill-advised but understandable choice that proves to have terrible consequences.

"The Intruder" has a great plot, believable characters and a punchy, present-tense delivery. Even Blauner's themes are presented in an interesting way: This is actually the story of three men, each of whom has a profound lesson to learn. The stakes are life and death. The first man needs to allow himself to depend on other people. The second must own up to a secret wish. The third needs to stop punishing himself for a terrible accident. Two of the men will become their best selves, while one will die rather than change. This is an excellent book.

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