Ben Schrank, Author . Random $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-375-50707-6

A spicy, turbulent Manhattan love story, Schrank's second novel (after Miracle Man) incorporates sexual passion, familial strife, crucial secrets and several kinds of obsession. At a party, small talk turns to heavy petting for abruptly intimate strangers Mike Zabusky, a divorced, 31-year-old graduate student, and a sexy, secretive domestic violence lawyer, Katherine Staresina, but their romantic future is dubious from the start. A fluctuating cat-and-mouse game of infatuation ensues: Katherine retreats, Mike obsessively stalks her, and the steamy sex resumes. But Mike's world is suddenly shaken by the news that his stock market–savvy father has committed suicide. Their relationship has deteriorated over the years, especially after the father's messy divorce and some costly financial slips. Mike's attention is diverted from the ever-elusive Katherine (whose own sister was murdered many years ago) to his family's house of secrets in Roosevelt, Long Island, and in his search for answers he uncovers a heap of violently broken furniture, unpaid debts and the news that Dad's distraught girlfriend, Sarah Jane, had left him just weeks before his death. Running alongside the busy narrative is a curious subplot involving Mike's doctoral thesis on the golem, a numinous monster in Jewish folklore, and some forced interactions with his disturbingly influential thesis adviser, Matthew Weingarden. Though the narrative is sometimes an odd hybrid of fiction and folklore, any hint of incongruity is tempered by skillful plotting and equal amounts of tension, romance and fascinating, well-researched Jewish mysticism. Schrank complements his intriguing domestic drama with characters (both main and supportive) as intelligent, realistic and provocative as the story they propel, as he continues to demonstrate his powerhouse potential. (Mar. 19)

Forecast:Its sleek, cinematic plot and cool, 30-something characters could fast-track this book to Hollywood.

Reviewed on: 01/21/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-8129-6682-4
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