THE RED ROOM
Following two highly praised psychothrillers (Killing Me Softly and Beneath the Skin), this fiction noir will be welcomed by French's avid readers. However, the fragmented, wandering—at times almost directionless—narrative won't do much to add to French's (actually a husband-and-wife writing team) list of fans. Attractive young London forensic psychiatrist Kit Quinn is having a run of rotten luck. First she catches her lover with another woman, then she's maimed by Michael Doll, a disturbed young man the police were questioning for loitering near an elementary school. When Doll is arrested again, suspected of murdering a young woman whose body is found by a canal where he fishes, Kit is asked to do a psychological assessment. Uncertain about Doll's guilt, Kit points out that the cops have no case. A tenuous connection to Will Pavic, the director of the homeless shelter frequented by runaway teens in a seedy ghetto, leads nowhere. Over protests from the smug police that she is wasting her time, Kit, following her intuition, wanders far afield and questions the affluent family of a young mother, the victim of an earlier, seemingly unrelated kidnapping and murder. Also, she intuits a link with the suicide of a troubled teen. Ignoring her fear that he may be involved, Kit, out of loneliness, enters a bittersweet affair with Will. Despite a literary yard sale of gratuitous characters, superfluous subplots and prose that at times seems remote and abstract, the chimerical plot is rescued as the signature climax is delivered right on cue. Major ad/promo. (Aug. 7)
FYI:MGM will release the film version of Killing Me Softly, starring Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes, this October.