cover image Perfect Angel: A Novel of Psychological Suspense

Perfect Angel: A Novel of Psychological Suspense

Seth Margolis. Avon Books, $23 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97311-8

Which one of seven successful 30-something friends has just begun a career as a particularly vicious serial killer? That's the question in this raw new thriller from the author of Losing Isaiah. On the night of her 35th birthday party, Julia Mallet, a New York City ad executive, gives in to the coaxing of six old college chums and performs an old stunt: hypnotism. The evening gets out of control, and Julia is able to snap her friends out of some frightening confrontations only by taking them briefly back to their childhoods. The following night, a brutal murder occurs in her building, and the murderer leaves a signature that a horrified Julia knows has everything to do with her hypnosis session. Julia goes to the police with the information, more murders follow and Julia finds that she and her friends are under a 24-hour watch. The seven continue to see each other under strained circumstances, and, with each new twist, Julia discovers how little she knows about her oldest friends. The police investigator, a good-looking cop whose marriage is breaking up, falls for Julia, ignoring his colleagues' warnings that she may be the prime suspect. After giving readers a first-chapter glimpse of the killer's primal trauma (without revealing the culprit's identity), Margolis keeps the suspense level high as he gradually reveals the psychosis of the killer and steers Julia toward an unexpected discovery. The investigator and some of the friends come to life more readily than Julia. But no matter. Margolis's strong suit is his ability to juggle an intricate plot and a number of major characters while he keeps his narrative taut and makes every detail count. 35,000 first printing; film rights to Paramount Pictures; audio rights to Books on Tape; foreign rights sold in Holland, France and the U.K. (Mar.)