THE GIRLS ON THE ROW by Carolyn Banks


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In her third, weakest psycho-killer fabrication, Banks (Mr. Right, The Darkroom) offers an unappetizing array of suspects: residents of a modest Washington, D.C. block called ""the Row""--and their visitors. The newcomer to the Row is rich, glamorous, kinky Claire, longtime sexual playmate of elderly Senator Aubrey Denton (a family friend who regularly molested the adolescent Claire). And Claire seems to like the fact that her new house was previously occupied by Faye Arensberg, victim of a savage, unsolved mutilation-murder. Unsurprisingly, then, weird, gorgeous Claire mesmerizes her neighbors: frizzy photographer Rita; the Senator's meek assistant Margaret, who's secretly in love with her boss; Margaret's boyfriend Jay, an innocent-looking type who frequents sex clubs and is obsessed with the Arensberg murder; and earthy Jessie, an older, successful career woman, unlucky in love. The characters spy on each other, talk about each other, get together at an uneasy party or two. Rita finds a new love--but has her doubts about him (till she learns that his mother is dying of cancer). Claire does some sexual teasing with the local low-lifes: a stereotyped young black (panting for White Woman), a mysterious motorcyclist-in-leather. Someone slashes the upholstery in Claire's fancy car. Margaret reveals her passion to the Senator, who doesn't reciprocate--till a rejection from Claire propels him into kinkiness with Margaret. And finally, inevitably, Claire indulges in knife/sex-play with her black admirer--but gets slashed up instead by the Arensberg killer, whose last-page unmasking is an entirely ho-hum revelation. Unpleasant people, sluggish plotting; for engrossing, relatively credible psycho-suspense, see David Lindsey's A Cold Mind (below) instead.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1983
Publisher: Crown