cover image Letters from Carthage

Letters from Carthage

Bill James, . . Severn, $27.95 (220pp) ISBN 978-0-7278-6460-4

Best known for his long-running Harpur & Iles series, James again proves himself a sharp and subtle stylist in this scary psychological thriller based on the short story "At Home," from his collection The Sixth Man (2006). The Carthage of the title is a posh house in the suburbs of an unnamed British city where Jill and Dennis Seagrave live, two doors down from a couple of newcomers to the neighborhood, Vince and Kate, who have fled the blighted inner city. Dennis is a broker and a gifted topiary artist; his wife is attractive and friendly. The novel unfolds via letters and Kate's diary, and the first hint of trouble in paradise comes in a letter from Jill to her mother in which she describes Dennis: "like any human being, however marginal, he loves to believe there are positive aspects to his personality." Can this marriage—and these lives—be saved? (Mar.)