Set in the art world, this latest psychological thriller by suspense veteran Lindsey (Mercy; Color of Night) is an alternately entertaining and frustrating tale of a sculptor's entanglement in revenge and murder. Ross Marteau makes a handsome living sculpting female nudes from glamorous live models. After a bad breakup in Paris, he returns home to San Rafael—a chic, artsy enclave in the Texas hill country—for his next commission. Upon his arrival, exotically beautiful newcomer Céleste Lacan seeks him out and persuades him to sculpt her sister, Leda. Leda is striking in a photograph Céleste shows Ross, but Leda, Céleste hints, is not an ordinary beauty—she will be a unique artistic challenge. As Ross soon discovers, Leda is a hunchback, stunning from some angles and startling from others. As Ross begins sketching her daily, and he and Céleste become romantically involved, he glimpses details of the sordid arrangement that binds the sisters to each other and to Céleste's abusive husband. There is an eerie tension among Ross, Céleste and Leda, which heightens when a murder disturbs the calm of San Rafael. Lindsey conceives an intriguing scenario and wrestles his story through unexpected turns. At time his efforts to conceal surprises make the writing, and especially the dialogue, irritatingly vague, and Ross becomes less sympathetic as time after time he fails to ask obvious questions when subjected to the sisters' cryptic babbling. But as the end approaches, Lindsey's obfuscation pays off, and a few clever twists are guaranteed to throw readers for a delicious loop. National advertising. (May 8)
Forecast: Lindsey is one of the most accomplished writers in the thriller field, but his tales, while solid, don't match his enormous talent; and this novel, with its offbeat subject and erudite approach, won't be a smash hit.
Release date: 05/01/2001