FLYCATCHER by Elleston Trevor


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 A scream from Central Park wakes self-possessed boutique owner Tasha Fontaine in the middle of the night, but it's a scream nobody else hears, even though Detective Bernie Behrens, rushing to the scene, finds painter Christine Wittendorf dead, the latest victim of a sex murderer the police call Jack the Knife. From the glimpses we get of Jack's home life--he was an abused child who now raises Venus flytraps, gets turned down for dates a lot, and sends orchids to his special ladies--he's nothing special, at least for a serial killer. The interest here has less to do with the obligatory battle of wits between the psycho and the cop (who's sketched in even more lightly than his prey) than in Tasha's dawning sense that Christine is talking to her alone, telling her that she always hated cats, and that Tasha should crash her funeral, help herself to one of Christine's scarves, and purchase her self-portrait. Finally, Christine possesses her so utterly that Tasha gets phone calls from the lover who killed himself after Christine dumped him and finds her frantic attempts to get out of the city thwarted by a run of preternatural bad luck. The plot thickens when Christine's friend Audrey Symes tells Tasha, ``She was a monster''--raising the creepy specter of a Christine who's not just another victim--but the climactic explanation of Tasha's spirit communion is this dispirited story's biggest cheat of all. A bad day's work from the usually reliable Trevor (The Sister, 1993, etc.): This overheated, undernourished rip-off makes its middlebrow models, Rebecca and Eyes of Laura Mars, look like Dostoyevsky.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-312-85647-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1994