THE LAST NOEL
Graham's latest is nerve-wracking in the extreme, solidly plotted and peppered with welcome hints of black humor. And the ending's all readers could hope for.
On Christmas Eve, the O'Boyle family -- parents Skyler and David, 16-year-old son Jamie, 22-year-old twins Kat and Frazier, plus elderly Uncle Paddy -- gather for the holidays. The usual squabbles over decorations and alcohol consumption -- as well as Frazier sharing his bed with his girlfriend -- are the order of the day. But as night falls, a vicious nor'easter moves in, bringing with it a blizzard and three desperate criminals -- Quintin, Scooter and, most oddly of all, Kat's college boyfriend, Craig Devon. Kat alone temporarily eludes the thugs, and as the storm worsens, so does the situation. It's clear that Quintin and Scooter are capable of violence, and Kat can only pray that her desperate text message to the police gets through. (MIRA, Nov., 352 pp., $16.95)