Pegasus. Jan. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9781639363087. pap. $16.95. SUSPENSE
Twenty years before E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey had readers all bewitched, bothered, and/or bewildered, a less salacious but equally passionate tale of sexual compulsion written by Josephine Hart, aka Baroness Saatchi (1942–2011) swept through the literary world like a fever, or at least a hot flash. The swift, taut drama of the successful middle-aged narrator’s hopeless fascination with his son’s fiancée Ann Barton, an enthrallingly damaged woman who seems equally in thrall (or is she?), is perhaps best consumed in a single sitting, the better to lose critical distance and submit to the novel’s hypnotic pull toward a catastrophe with the terrible inevitability of classic noir, minus the tough stuff.
VERDICT Next to the often-contrived twists and revelations of today’s psychological suspense, Hart’s spare tale of all-consuming obsession is refreshingly straightforward. Louis Malle directed a 1992 film adaptation of the same name; a limited series for Netflix is currently underway, so anticipate demand.
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