cover image The Practice of Deceit

The Practice of Deceit

Elizabeth Benedict, .. Houghton Mifflin, $23.95 (268pp) ISBN 978-0-618-56371-5

Eric Lavender, a 40-something Manhattan therapist, transforms from hard-core bachelor to blissed-out family man then alleged felon in Benedict's new psychological thriller (after Almost ). Soon after Eric falls for Colleen O'Brien Golden, strawberry blonde Scarsdale divorce lawyer and single mom, and her toddler, Zoe, an unplanned pregnancy precipitates marriage and his relocation to the suburbs, where much to his surprise, he finds contentment in domesticity. But Eric's creeping suspicions that Colleen—"with her milky breasts... and her blazing feminist ideals to help women and children suffering at the hands of so many deadbeat dads"—is not the woman she seems put an end to their idyll after a few years. The story about her first husband doesn't add up, and it turns out that her book, Your Fair Share! Women and Divorce, was ghostwritten. On top of this shaky foundation of trust, Eric and Colleen encounter a disastrous professional conflict of interest—he unwittingly takes a client whose wife has hired Colleen as her divorce lawyer. The upshot: Eric finds himself cuffed, jailed and falsely accused of molesting Zoe. This intelligently written and briskly plotted update on the femme fatale story makes an absorbing beach read. (June)