cover image The Playroom

The Playroom

Frances Hegarty. Pocket Books, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-73582-1

In this harrowing psychological thriller, beautiful Katherine Allendale thinks she has everything: a doting, successful husband, two children, a magnificent home in the English countryside. Although her architect husband, David, manages their existence according to his own personal blueprint for perfection (including telling her how to dress and whom to befriend) Katherine has no complaints, and leaves unspoken what few qualms she does feel. Product of an impoverished childhood and a series of foster homes, Katherine clings blindly to the good life David has made for her, ever fearful that he who giveth might also lose his temper and taketh away. One day, four-year-old Jeanetta--a plump, spirited child who by no means meets her father's impossible standards--misbehaves, and David locks her in the playroom. For a month! The horror of that act and Katherine's subsequent acquiescence in her daughter's imprisonment keep the reader enthralled and redeem the narrative, which until that point is sluggish and difficult to accept. Only when her little girl is threatened does docile Katherine become all too frighteningly credible. Hegarty has been published under the name Frances Fyfield ( Not That Kind of Place ). (Sept.)