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Vivid portraits of a serial killer and the woman who Falls for him highlight this otherwise predictable first novel--really a gothic disguised as a psychological thriller--from the author of three psychology-oriented non-fiction books (Listen to Me, I'm Angry; Mind/Body/Spirit; Daughters of Divorce). Elizabeth Kern is the pretty, small-town-NY social worker noticed in a local diner by Gary Roll, itinerant photographer with curly black hair, deep green eyes, and a motorcycle big and powerful enough to excite Elizabeth to near-orgasm when he gives her a lift home. Gary leaves her at her door, but ""if he had insisted, she would have surrendered,"" Elizabeth later realizes. Which would have made for a sticky situation, since Elizabeth's boyfriend is stalwart local cop Mason Kiley, presently hunting the unknown killer of a teen girl left mutilated in the woods, while Gary (as Laiken reveals to the reader early on) is a fruitcake who believes he can capture people's essences when he photographs them, and who enjoys breaking into Elizabeth's house and pawing through her underwear. Despite Gary's weirdness--and Laiken's aiming all the evidence to implicate him as the killer--the reader continues to hope for some overlooked clue, some twist, to spring forth and disprove the obvious. But such is not to be; Gary is the killer, after all. After some unnecessary subplotting involving another missing teen and a side-trip to New Jersey taken by Elizabeth and Kiley, Elizabeth finally beds Gary (in an open field, of course, where Elizabeth feels herself ""unfold like the petals of the orchid""); soon after, even she realizes that Gary is the killer. But before Gary can wrap his hands around Elizabeth's thick skull, Kiley shoots him dead. The love/death tango between Elizabeth and Gary does generate some heat; but in all: silly, overwrought stuff.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1987
Publisher: Macmillan