GEMINI by Domini Taylor


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A pair of Bad Seed twins with telepathic rapport: that's the agreeably far-fetched premise of this neat little chiller--which, like Taylor's Mother Love (1983), offers a modicum of nasty fun in the understated British tradition. The episodic tale begins circa 1960, with the birth of golden fraternal twins--Peter and Pandora--to their devoted yet oddly matched parents: fey, impetuous Melissa is the orphan granddaughter of Lord Kendall, master of a superb family manse, Sterney Court; her husband Simon, a vicar's son, is the stolid, reliable manager of the estate. And life is bliss all around when--after old Lord K.'s death--Simon, Melissa, and the twins move into glorious Sterney Court itself (as custodians for the actual heir, Melissa's American cousin Dick). A few years later, however, tragedy descends: the twins' bothersome baby brother is found dead, a pillow over his face. Freak accident? Or--? Then Melissa commits suicide, just after saying: ""I've just understood something. And I don't think I can live with it."" So it goes through the next decade: everyone who threatens the twins' cozy spoiled status quo is sabotaged--often cleverly, usually fatally; the twins' telepathy allows them to fake impeccable alibis. And the only one to suspect that the bright, beautiful, musical twins are capable of tricky, grisly murder is their spinsterish Aunt Eleanor--whose sleuthing leads to her own inevitable demise at the limp fade-out, circa 1980. Like Mother Love, Taylor's second psycho-crime-lest lacks credibility at the core--the twins' villainy apparently stems from bad genes and a lack of discipline. Missing, too, are the richly likable characters who gave Mother Love some much-needed warmth. But, if less inventive and far more predictable than the pseudonymous Taylor's saucy debut, this is stylish, deadpan mayhem--nicely adorned with the Italinate charms of Sterney Court, pleasingly reminiscent of such cheerful/creepy kill-a-thons as Kind Hearts and Coronets and The List of Adrian Messenger.

Pub Date: June 19th, 1985
Publisher: Atheneum