Too Close for Comfort

Ellen Feldman, Author
Ellen Feldman, Author Delacorte Press $19.95 (305p) ISBN 978-0-385-30912-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 10 pages - 978-0-440-21513-4
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A psychiatrist's wife is the target of steadily escalating harassment in this moderately involving psychological thriller by the author of Looking for Love. Isobel, director of a New York City landmarks preservation organization, has married Pete, who runs a successful practice from his large apartment overlooking Central Park. Rebellious by nature, Isobel resents having to arrange her habits to keep Pete's patients from glimpsing his private life. When objects mysteriously disappear from the apartment, she suspects someone from her husband's practice, and her fears are heightened by harassing phone calls and threatening letters. But Pete doubts that there's any danger and, as Isobel becomes more convinced that she's being stalked by an obsessed patient, the marriage begins to unravel. Feldman, who knows the language and mores of psychotherapy well, is convincing in her gradually emerging portrait of a psychopath and in her criticism of the medical and legal systems that allow such an individual to remain untreated. As a former Bad Girl who seems to be growing up almost in spite of herself, Isobel is an entertaining, if occasionally stereotypical, narrator. A wordy prose style overly focused on the minutiae of Manhattan life, however, dulls the suspense; and, with little left to the imagination, the revelation of the psychopath's identity falls flat. One wishes that the author had allowed her insights into character to take center stage and, in doing so, fulfilled the novel's early promise. Double day Book Club and Mystery Guild selection s ; Literary Guild featured alternate. (July)
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