A Perfect Crime

Peter Abrahams, Author Ballantine Books $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-345-42384-9
A Boston woman's ill-advised affair with a talk-show host leads to murder and mayhem in this initially absorbing but somewhat contrived thriller from the author of The Fan and Lights Out. Art critic Francie Cullingwood is the beautiful, sophisticated and dissatisfied protagonist who seeks sexual satisfaction outside her stale marriage. Her lover is Ned DeMarco, a handsome, touchy-feely psychiatrist who hosts a radio show for the emotionally forlorn. Their passionate arrangement begins to unravel when Roger, Francie's brilliant but angry husband (a Harvard summa who's been fired from his job as a securities analyst), suspects her adultery and hires a hit man, Whitey Truax, to exact revenge on his spouse. Truax, it turns out, is a serial killer with a very short fuse. The tension rises as Abrahams cuts between the plot participants: Ned's wife, Anne, becomes Francie's tennis partner, making Francie aware of the damage the affair is causing, while Ned desperately clings to their involvement and Roger plots his bizarre campaign of retribution. The initial showdown between Whitey and his potential victims takes place at the adulterous couple's love nest, a New Hampshire cottage that quickly becomes a house of horrors when Whitey suspects Roger of double-crossing him, and runs amok on a killing spree that eventually leads back to Boston. Abrahams does his best work in a series of well-crafted early scenes that effectively convey the different levels of emotional duplicity among the protagonists, but the actual murders are strictly formulaic. While Francie, Ned and Anne are well-drawn, Abrahams's portrayals of both Roger and his minion lack dimension; they are both plot devices whose ludicrous partnership never carries the ring of credibility. Even so, as he explores Francie's emotional terrain in the wake of tragedy, Abrahams will keep readers very much engaged. Agent, Molly Friedrich; 100,000 first printing. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 978-0-345-43096-0
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56740-084-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56740-613-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-4233-9075-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56740-806-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 384 pages - 978-0-345-42680-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-4233-9074-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4418-4089-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4418-4090-5
Hardcover - 447 pages - 978-0-7838-8476-9
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56740-319-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-5012-8461-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-5113-8668-5
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