cover image Nemesis


Rosamond Smith / Author Dutton Books $18.95 (276p) ISBN 978-0-

The pseudonymous Smith's third elegant and sensational thriller ( Lives of the Twins; Soul/Mate ) is set in an affluent Connecticut suburb whose cultural hub is its conservatory of music. Here pianist Maggie Blackburn--34, lonely, diffident, austerely beautiful in her coronet of silver-blond braids--performs and teaches, selflessly devoted to her students. After the fall term is launched at a bibulously festive faculty party with a guest list of eccentrics, the predatory Pulitzer-winning composer-in-residence, aging, gay ``glamorous-thuggish'' Rolfe Christensen, rapes graduate student Brendan Bauer, a stammering, naive ex-seminarian. Outraged Maggie befriends Brendan, who is accused of murdering Christensen via a pre-Christmas gift box of lethally laced chocolates. When the bondage/knifing murder of another gay colleague further implicates Brendan, Maggie turns sleuth. The plot fuses the lurid and literary to focus on such issues as sexual harassment, styles of masculinity, the menace of AIDS. The romantic angle is gratifying, as is the bounty of musical imagery. The gifted Rosamond Smith is Joyce Carol Oates. (July)