You may not buy the psychological notion at the center of this sex/terror/suspense novel (a woman's manic, adoring response...



You may not buy the psychological notion at the center of this sex/terror/suspense novel (a woman's manic, adoring response to her rapist); but first-novelist Rule, who wrote about mass-murderer Ted Bundy in The Stranger Beside Me, might keep you reading anyway--with a plot that never lingers too long on any one development. A prologue introduces us to young mass-murderer Duane Demich, through a wretched family history that semi-explains his need to rape and kill mother-substitutes (seven so far). Then we meet Duane's next intended victim: lovely Joanne Lindstrom, who's married to Natchitat County (Washington) cop Danny, a loving husband even if ""he seemed to have no idea where the center of her sexual feeling lay."" (Another marriage tension: Joanne's inability to get pregnant.) And so, when Danny and Joanne go off for a camping/climbing vacation, Duane follows them into the woods, makes pals with Danny, then kills him and rapes the stunned, spaced-out Joanne: ""Her husband was garbage now, and she belonged to him, and they were all alone in the woods."" But Joanne then reacts strangely--apparently unhinged by grief but also turned on by her sexy attacker; she becomes obsessed with caring for the ill Duane, ""she lay beside him as easily as a lover, no longer a captive."" So, when Danny's boozy, older cop-partner Sam comes searching for the missing couple, with help from quirky Indian guide Max, he finds Danny's corpse. . . and then an odd couple indeed: Joanne is on Duane's side in the ensuing shootout (Duane and Max die); and, in the novel's most interesting twist, she goes on to accuse Sam of murdering a ""Good Samaritan""--an accusation which is taken quite seriously until Jeanne starts recovering her saner self. Dollops of dubious psychopathology along the way, with some tacky dwelling on sexual details--but the police procedures are solid, the legal sequence is absorbing (likable Sam is defended by an old flame, lawyer Nina), and this is a cut or two above the usual psycho-killer ordeal. . . with all that grand Washington scenery to boot.

Pub Date: May 23, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983