cover image Priveleged Conversation

Priveleged Conversation

Evan Hunter. Grand Central Publishing, $30 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-446-52028-7

The blurred border between fantasy and obsession is explored in this latest from Hunter (Criminal Conversation and, as Ed McBain, the 87th Precinct novels), who keeps readers off-balance throughout. When happily married psychiatrist David Chapman rescues dancer Kate Duggan during a robbery in Central Park, the chance encounter inspires a sexual fantasy that has disturbing echoes in the revelations of some of his more troubled patients. It's only after David sees Kate dancing the part of Victoria in a performance of Cats that the fantasy is realized. During the course of a summer affair that becomes obsessive, the psychiatrist alternates weekends with his wife and family on Martha's Vineyard with wild evenings in the city with a woman he knows little about. Midway into the novel, the narrative switches from David's to Kate's point of view, as an admirer begins to stalk her. Suddenly, the psychiatrist's mysterious temptress becomes a very real woman in trouble. And there is yet another switch at novel's end, a sucker punch that will daze readers. Consummate craftsman Hunter invests this disquieting yarn with the easy intelligence and dark feel of a good Hitchcock film-plus a creepy resonance all its own. Author tour. (Feb.)