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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  296 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Charlie Ravich is an international corporate tycoon, a husband and father on the hard side of fifty, and a restless soul in search of immortality. When Christina Welles, a prison parolee, well-schooled in the art of manipulation, walks into his life, Charlie thinks he just might have found what he's looking for. As she tries to outrun her past, and he to understand his fut ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by Picador (first published September 1st 1997)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  296 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Mar 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: adrenalin junkies
Murder! Sex! Torture! International Finance! Wall Street Shenanigans! Lesbian Jail Scenes! Police corruption! A one-armed man! No, it's not the latest Tarantino blockbuster, but this book gave me whiplash as it screeched around a plot and the world (mostly centered in NYC though).

This was my 2nd Harrison novel, and I think I need a break before trying a third as the way this one read would give someone a seizure if they weren't careful. The story as it was centered on a good-girl-gone-wrong and
Feb 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a tough one to rate. The story was really well written. My favorite line was about being harnessed to "the imbecile donkey of lust." However, all the female characters were bimbos, fools, victims, strident (and/because possibly lesbian), oblivious, or some combination thereof. The main character was the only one who wasn't just a laughable caraciture of a woman, and she was still a deeply damaged victim and a... doom-bringer? I don't know if there's a word for it, but everyone she got in ...more
Nov 12, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: action
Trying to get interested but not a sympathetic character picture
Jun 28, 2007 rated it liked it
This book had so much potential so I was a little disappointed by the ending, but overall quite interesting. Basically the dichotomy between the life that went right and the one that went wrong.
Jul 27, 2008 rated it liked it
A well-written thriller, but I'm docking it a star on account of the mob torture scene that almost made me lose my lunch.
Jim Coughenour
Jul 14, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: bleakfiction
Great writing, great set-up, disappointing dénouement. Sounds a bit like my life.
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read this after I had complained about Harrison's vapid women in another novel and this was recommended to me by another reader. It was so violent and gory that I had to skip whole sections, and the excruciating detail of the scams and criminal activity didn't do much for me either. I think I'm well done with this author. Like so many men, he seems to think most women exist for men and/or sex and security. Ho. Hum.
William Blackwell
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
A gritty and raw look into the minds of two very different characters. Overflowing with inner dialogue and backstory to the point of being a tad tedious at times. Description of sex scenes and torture so detailed, I would not recommend it for the faint if heart. Otherwise, great prose and a good read.
Sarah Potter
I had to put this away. It wasn't a terrible book ,but it never really grabbed me. I'm 43 years old and I don't have time for mediocre. The death in the restroom was cool, but OMG I don't need to hear about how many sit ups you can do. He said he loved his daughter, but he never talked about her like he REALLY cared so it made the story hard to emotionally connect with.
Naomi Carlson
Oct 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Too much blood, guts and torture without any characters in a retaliatory position. Could have used a Lisbeth Salander character. At least level the playing field. I want a little payback.
Ray Pezzi
Mar 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
I read Harrison's earlier novels "Bodies Electric" and "Manhattan Nocturne" and enjoyed them very much, so I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, "Afterburn" was a tremendous disappointment for me. The beautifully descriptive writing style evident in his earlier works is utterly lacking here. Perhaps it was just the shift from the first-person perspective in the earlier books to the third-person here, but the writing here is very plodding, prosaic, and workmanlike.
Worse than
Rick Bentley
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was the 3rd of Harrison's novels that I devoured following the fantastic 'Manhattan Nocturne' and the equally impressive 'Bodies Electric' to which Martin Scorsese holds the film rights. It's a while since I read Afterburn but was enthralled from page one. The excellent characterisation, Harrison's trademark literary style and fluid pacing fuelled my tension and anxiety as I raced through the story to it's high octane climax. It's certainly not a book for the faint hearted but highly reward ...more
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
This seemed like the perfect novel to read on our trip to New York City with lots of time in the air or at airports coming and going. It's 600 pages long, it's set in New York City and it got great reviews. It's a sort of crime/caper novel and while it's a page-turner, I didn't really like it. The violence is really nasty and graphic. The sex is pretty graphic, too, but strangely unsexy. I didn't really like the characters (maybe that was intended) and as for the New York setting, it was really ...more
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm not quite sure how this book even landed on my bookshelf but once I picked it up, I was hooked. Throughout the day, I found myself wondering how Christina was going to make it and make it out. I noticed that a few other reviewers made negative comments on the lengthy sex passages and indeed, excruciating violence. While I was stopped in place on both accounts, Harrison certainly made it crystal clear who these characters were in many ways, and the sex and violence were effective means. I lov ...more
Nov 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
I truly enjoy Harrison's gritty writing and his characters: Christina Welles (a released convicted felon, trying to get her life back together), Rick Bocca (her ex-lover, crook, who has become a recluse fisherman), and to a lesser extent, Charlie Ravitch (a fighter pilot, POW, turned technology businessman.) Welles and Bocca's former mob boss is looking for revenge and willing to do anything to get it. Too much slaughter and sex in this novel.
Rona Simmons
Dec 20, 2016 rated it liked it
A 400 page tome with an occasional 500 word sentence and descriptions that run from confusing to poetic and many go on for far too long in my opinion, yet the book is a page turner even if Ii confess to reading the last two-thirds to find out what happened though I did not care about the characters or identify with the circumstances. I'm not one to shy away from books heavy on sex or violence, but this one an excess of both that I felt dwarfed the story.
Jul 18, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes flawed characters.
The book is well-written; however, I think it would have been well-served with a good editor to cut it down to size a bit. There were parts I really enjoyed, where the book moved. My biggest problem was that all of the characters were flawed, and in ways that made it difficult for me to identify with them or pull for them. I would start out really liking the character, but then become disgruntled with choices/decisions made. I would like to re-write the ending!
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2000
AFTERBURN is about using everything you've got to survive. Sometimes you have to kick in the afterburner even when the acceleration comes at the expense of burning all your fuel. To survive, the gain must exceed the consequences. And some people have a real knack for this, like Charlie Ravich and Christina Welles.

See my review here:
Apr 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016
I read this because I read a lot of Kathryn Harrison books in high school so I was curious about her husband's writing. I am not sure why this book advertised itself as a thriller. It took a lot of energy to get through, though the end did pick up a bit.

I don't think the writing was bad, but I didn't find the story terribly interesting.
David Barrie
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Colin Harrison has two great virtues: a fascination for the world of modern business and a great sense of place as regards Manhattan. I find his novels systematically depressing (bad things happen to people who didn't deserve them) but compelling.
Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book at random in an airport bookstore. All of the characters are insatiable, all of the violence is explicit. Everything a thriller should be. His books set in NYC have a great sense of place.
Feb 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe a 3.5. Definately leaves an afterburn.
Jess George
Feb 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Man, this started off so well but got super dark. The torture stuff was too graphic for me, and there was a later plot development that didn't feel right. It was a page turner, though!
Mary Joy
Dec 16, 2012 rated it liked it
We'll see how this goes. After reading about so much truly awful real-life stuff this week, I'm just looking for some mindless, suspenseful entertainment.
Nov 26, 2009 rated it did not like it
Spooky and violent. Did not like. That is not to say it wasn't well written. Significant other liked it a lot.
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I remember really loving this book.
Dec 16, 2010 rated it liked it
parts were violent and graphic, made me very uncomfortable, but it was still a good story.
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Strangely disappointing. Excesses of sex & torture does not a good book make.
Jul 29, 2011 added it
Don't waste your time. Very hard to follow. I finally quit reading it and discarded it.
Sandra Knapp
Too much violence, and too much sex for my liking, but a well written thriller.
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Colin Harrison is a crime novelist. He is a vice president and senior editor at Scribner.
He lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with his wife, the writer Kathryn Harrison, and their three children (Sarah, Walker and Julia).

He attended: Haverford College, BA 1982; University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. MFA 1986

His short nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Washington
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