Turns out to have been a good choice. This book is definitely hardcore and even has some situations that would put it well into the lurid category. However, they are all done off-camera and referred to rather than spread out before the reader's eyes. The story is great. A young, poor hard-working student, Boyd Ritchie, comes from the midwest to this patrician New England town on a scholarship. He's there for half a school year before he gets mixed up with the town beauty, who is betrothed to the town scion, but who also is a big slut. A situation happens where the girl accuses Boyd of rape to protect her own reputation. He gets caught, brutalized by the sociopathic chief of police (an ex-Texas Ranger, disgraced for killing a suspect in his old job), then convinced to plea bargain and then screwed over by the judge. In prison, he gets further brutalized and something snaps, so that he spends the rest of the time planning his revenge on the entire town. The book is the entire night of his revenge.
This is good, gripping, nasty stuff. The plan is complex and seeing its execution, while learning through flashbacks and the ensuing investigation how he prepared for it is really enjoyable. Watching it (and Boyd himself) unravel while the "good" guys start to figure out what is going on is also a great pleasure. This is one of those books that is perfect for a long plane ride, easy to digest, with lots of short segments jumping from character to character. The last third goes on a bit long as we get slightly bogged down in some family relationships (and how the crisis tests marriages and childrens' love for their parents) . Overall, though, a great summer thriller read.