The Torching

Marcy Heidish, Author
Marcy Heidish, Author Simon & Schuster $18.5 (236p) ISBN 978-0-671-74375-8
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-380-72054-5
Paperback - 298 pages - 978-0-9792404-4-7
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Weatherell's Rare and Used Books in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown is the setting for this subtle and gratifying psychological suspense tale, new ground broken and claimed by historical novelist Heidish ( A Woman Called Moses ). Proprietor Alice Grey, whose grandmother founded the store, also writes horror mysteries; her latest, based on the life of an 18th-century Maryland midwife accused of being a witch and cutting out her victims' eyes, is about to go into production. But Alice isn't pleased with her story's ending, and when odd things begin to happen--books flying off shelves, fire that only she can see engulfing the store--she is drawn to the parallels between her life and her character's. An old friend dies unexpectedly and his pet rabbit's eyes are given to Alice; a member of her writers' group is murdered, his eyes gouged out; another member, a homeless woman, is also killed; Alice, accused of plagiarism and ostracized by the group, becomes suspicious of even her faithful beau. Impeccably orchestrating the historical and contemporary, the supernatural and psychological elements of her plot, Heidish plaits together the stories of the midwife (whose life Alice investigates anew), Alice's reworking of the novel, inexplicable events and recognizable contemporary evils into an unpredicted, satisfying design. The layered plot, penetrating characterization and controlled, evocative prose contribute to this tale's lasting reward. (Mar.)
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