Title: You’re Next
Paperback Original: 436 pages
Publication Date: 06/01/2011
Mike Wingate, a builder turned property developer with a beautiful wife and young daughter, seems to have the perfect life. Until, on the day that he completes his first big property deal, two contract killers arrive on the scene – threatening Mike and his family – and things start to spin rapidly out of control. But why are these men after Mike? And does it have something to do with his mysterious past: when his loving parents disappeared after inexplicably abandoning him as a young boy? And who can he trust? Luckily for Mike, he can call on his childhood friend Shep – a violent and muscle-bound felon – to come to his family’s aid.
For me, Shep was the stand-out character in this novel. He reminded me a lot of Dennis Lehane’s brilliantly psychotic Bubba Rogowski, and certainly the relationship between Shep and Mike has the same ying and yang quality that made Bubba and Patrick Kenzie such a compelling and dynamic duo. That being said, I did have to repeatedly remind myself of Shep’s violent and criminal streak. This wasn’t through any fault of Hurwitz or his skills as an author, but more because I have a friend called Shep and he is not what you’d call particularly threatening [certainly not in a physical sense!].
You’re Next is very much from the Harlan Coben / Linwood Barclay school of suspense fiction. The plotting is expertly constructed and labyrinthinely layered [quite a tongue-twisting phrase, I know!], and there is tension by the bucket load. I have to admit that I did slightly roll my eyes when I started the book and realized that it was going to be about a rather generic everyman whose family was being threatened by mysterious bad men from his past [it is, after all, rather a common suspense fiction plot trope!]. But the characterisation throughout the novel, especially that of both Shep and Mike, is so good that it more than makes up for the somewhat clichéd nature of the central storyline.