by Bernard Feld ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 11, 1987
Young reporter loves crazy, gorgeous heiress and gets involved with her creepy, decadent family--in a relatively mild slice of southern gothic (aristocratic variety) that does better with the Alabama ambiance than with the ill-paced unraveling of secrets. Nick Phillips, working for his hometown Birmingham paper after dropping out of Columbia U. journalism, gets reacquainted with casual friend Cassie Fairchild--and their chumship now turns to intense passion. Cassie, however, is moody, unpredictable, a sometime resident of genteel asylums, the unstable product of the poshest household in the exclusive Birmingham suburb of Shady Vale: father Chapell, who inherited a fortune, is a failed poet, a sometime alcoholic; mother Julia is a social butterfly and blatant adulteress; brother Timothy is a druggy ne'er-do-well. Indeed, Cassie has ""ghosts--and demons--you'll never lay eyes on,"" including her not-quite-consummated incestuous yen for Daddy. (After this revelation, sex with Cassie becomes ""an act of faith, of allegiance, not just to Cassie but to her father, as if I had somehow committed incest by proxy."") Then, a little over halfway through this short first novel, Cassie's mother is murdered--an event which understandably unhinges the fragile heiress: she's consumed with irrational guilt and virtually rapes Nick on the bed where Mrs. Fairchild was smothered to death. So Nick has a special interest in figuring out who the killer really is--especially since the Fairchild case seems to link up with a story Nick's already been covering: the unsolved murder of a low-class girl out in Huey-town. And, despite some interference from local power-brokers, the coming-of-age narrator--an ""incurable romantic""--does uncover the unpleasant truth of the two killings. Frail as mystery, derivative and uninvolving as psycho-romance--but with modest promise in the sturdy narration, the supporting characterizations (Mr. Fairchild's mistress is a tart charmer), and the Birmingham backgrounds.
Pub Date: Feb. 11, 1987
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1987
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