Starred Review. Benchley's novel, while better known as the source material for Steven Spielberg's classic movie, has earned its own stripes as a small gem of suspense fiction. With another summer fast approaching, audio listeners may be interested in revisiting the town of Amity, Long Island, and getting back in the water. Erik Steele, a theater and film actor, chomps into Benchley's raw prose with appetite, enjoying every bite of gore and social observation. Making ample use of well-placed pauses and silences, Steele amplifies not only the suspense, but Benchley's surprisingly well-honed characterizations. The experience, of course, is markedly different from Spielberg's film, offering shocks less visceral and more contemplative. A Random House hardcover. (Apr.)
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This novel about a rogue shark that terrorizes a beach community hasnt aged a day since its publication more than 35 years ago. Benchleys writing is lean and efficientthis is his first novel, and also by far his bestand the story is a solid mixture of small-town politics, mystery, and outright terror. The author positions his protagonist, police chief Martin Brody, as virtually the lone voice of reason in a town filled with people who want to downplay the sharks presence (so as not to scare away tourists with their bulging wallets); and when the body count starts to rise, its Brody who has to find a way to kill the beast, even if it means putting his own life on the line. The familiar charactersBrody, oceanographer Matt Hooper, shark-hunter Quintare not as likable as they are in Steven Spielbergs classic film adaptation, but in the context of the novel, they are well drawn and compelling. Those who are familiar with the movie, but not the book, are in for some surprises, and those who read the book way back when should definitely give it another look. --David Pitt
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