BEYOND THE PALE MOTEL by Francesca Lia Block


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Sober for nearly 12 years, Catt and her best friend, Bree, have created perfect lives for themselves in Los Angeles. But sobriety, like perfection, is a fragile thing.

They style hair at the ominously named Head Hunter, work out at the Body Farm and maintain their blog, Love Monster, which comments on all the things that make a sober life tolerable. And together, they manage to care for Bree’s son, since her “Baby Daddy” usually has better things to do. When murdered and mutilated women’s bodies start turning up, the entire community goes on high alert. All the victims are model beautiful—and bear a disturbing resemblance to Bree—and each has lost her legs or arms. When Catt’s husband, Dash, leaves her to start a family with another woman, her personal life begins spiraling down. Although she ought to be locking her doors and avoiding strangers, she joins an online dating service and falls into bed with nearly every man she meets. Who can she really trust? Big Bob, the creepy owner of the Body Farm? Scott, her workout buddy, who seems to be paler every time she seems him? Dash’s brother, Cyan, the sexy but remote photographer? Her reckless behavior threatens not only her sobriety, but also the careful life she’s constructed. Block (Love in the Time of Global Warming, 2013, etc.) again examines the interstices of addiction and sexuality and the limits of what a woman will do for those she loves. Aiming for a haunting eroticism, she instead achieves a numbing sense of dread, as the reader wonders not what the serial killer will do next but how Catt will degrade herself further. Even the final showdown between Catt and the killer is marred by exposition, which defuses much of the tension.

Instead of erotic noir, a grim study of failed sobriety.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 2014
ISBN: 9781250033123
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2014


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