Take Me Apart

MCD: Farrar. Apr. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780374272616. $27. F
Kate Aitken’s life has gone off track; a journalist, she finds herself despondent and jobless after accusing a senior editor of sexual abuse. A continent away, in Callinas, CA, Theo Brand needs a curator to sort a mountain of papers left by his mother, an internationally famous photographer with her own history of sexual abuse and mental illness. The job goes to Kate, who fortunately has an aunt living in the town. Miranda Brand’s death (suicide? murder?) shook the art world decades back and still tantalizes, and rude, standoffish Theo expects Kate to be confined to the first floor of a large house with her work. But her curiosity gets the better of her, and she begins to explore the house when Theo is away, just as their relationship thaws. The story advances in alternate chapters with Kate’s narrative interspersed with snippets from Miranda’s papers and her hidden diary, making this really a study of two damaged and sympathetic women. This creates a plotting serpentine, but it works.
VERDICT Love story, hate story, mystery--all in one. For patient readers of feminist, psychological suspense fiction.

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