RANCHO MIRAGE by Aram Saroyan


An American Tragedy of Manners, Madness, and Murder
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 Knife-edged retelling of a killing in California's ritzy residential country club Rancho Mirage, in which the sadistic victim heedlessly orchestrates his own murder by way of his mentally troubled wife. Saroyan (Friends in the World, 1992, etc.) writes more coolly here than ever before and few will deny his objectivity, although he clearly deplores the court's final verdict of first-degree murder, with no insanity plea influencing the wife's sentence of 25-years-to-life. Beautiful ninth-grade dropout Andrea Claire, a lifelong victim of males and addicted to serving them, leaped from high-priced call girl to wife of elderly Bob Sand, a millionaire bound to a wheelchair by multiple sclerosis but gripped by a boundlessly kinky sex drive. This was her fifth disastrous marriage, his second, and at the time of his death she was 39, he 69. She married, she said, not for money but companionship. But jealous Bob curtailed her social life, kept her running about the house nude, enjoyed making up rape fantasies and having Andrea act them out while he masturbated or took endless Polaroids of her bareness. Andrea liked this sex play with her fun-loving, well- read, intellectual husband (as she saw him) and had no qualms when he showed his photo collection to visitors. But she began reacting badly to his ever more intense spanking-and-rape fantasies, which echoed a real rape endured in her teens: Her none-too-stable mind at last burst as he drew for her a terrible scene, causing her to go into a blackout and stab him 26 times. The prosecutor bent himself fiercely to proving her sane, and won, but the reader groans. Told through a film of ice--but may Saroyan's success here not trap him exclusively in the true-crime genre. (Photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 1993
ISBN: 0-942637-95-X
Page count: 366pp
Publisher: Barricade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993