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The normal chaos of college years takes a bizarre twist in this morbid debut laced with quantum theory (the Schrîdinger angle) from McGregor: a vanishing corpse wreaks havoc on a flat full of students in Glasgow, leaving only one to know the whole sad story. Eminently rational Juliet is the narrator. Born of an artistic, romantic London family, she’s studying in Glasgow to be a veternarian when she meets the dark, neurotic Petruchio, a pharmeceuticals researcher and Valium addict with whom she decides to share an apartment. The others who share their rent are drama students, and one of them brings along his would-be girlfriend, Kerry—a diminutive, hard-drinking, chainsmoking Irish madwoman. She and Juliet soon find themselves involved, and with a lover’s pride Juliet watches Kerry draw critical praise for her lead role in Antigone. A pub encounter with a top London agent, however, quickly takes Kerry from her shining moment of success down into a realm of darkness and deceit, with Petruchio being her confidant and Juliet the primary recipient of her fabrications. Kerry announces she’s pregnant, claiming it’s the result of a random encounter. But when Juliet finds a dead woman in vampire’s garb in a closet under their stairs, only to have the body disappear, and when she later hears the news that both the agent and his wife have vanished, she’s pushed to her rational limits, suspecting that her lover is involved but not knowing how. The household splits up, as do Kerry and Juliet; Petruchio goes home to Italy and kills himself; Juliet drops out of school; and Kerry drops out of sight, then reappears just before the birth of her child, eventually telling Juliet the awful truth in a grim finale. A genuine downer of a story, though too transparent as a mystery, with the quantum connection ultimately revealed as inconsequential.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-688-16893-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1999