cover image The Ex

The Ex

John Lutz. Kensington Publishing Corporation, $21 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-57566-078-3

He's won an Edgar Award and several Shamus Awards (including, in 1995, a Lifetime Achievement Award), but Lutz (Burn, 1995) isn't likely to collect any prizes for this brisk but lightweight and predictable psychothriller. Anyone who's seen the movies Fatal Attraction or Single White Female (the latter filmed from Lutz's novel SWF Seeks Same) will anticipate many of this novel's twists and turns, which follow Hollywood's formula for stalk-and-slash stories; in fact, this work is based on a screenplay of the same title that's currently in production from producer/director Mark Lester. The villain here is ravishing redhead Deirdre Chandler, who, after killing a guard while escaping from a state mental institution, heads for Manhattan and her ex-husband, literary agent David Jones. Never mind that David has remarried; in no time, Deirdre works her way back into his life, moving into his apartment building and serving as the new babysitter for his son, Michael, after she kills off the old one. David's sweet young wife, Molly, wrinkles her nose at Deirdre early on, but before she can take action the femme fatale has kidnapped Michael, leading to a familiar climax, awash in blood. Characterization throughout is simple but convincing, particularly David's self-loathing as he falls in sexual thrall to Deirdre. Lutz offers a few over-the-top scenes, including a coupling in a funeral parlor, to spice up the story; but what he's serving here is yesterday's meal all the same. (Aug.)