NICE by Jen Sacks


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How does a nice girl find love in Manhattan? Grace tries by murdering all the undesirable men she comes across in this, Sacks’s first novel—an offbeat comedy on the complications of modern dating rites. Grace is a “nice” girl—and therein lies her problem. She just can’t bear to hurt men’s feelings (say, at that crucial moment when they reach for some sexual intimacy), so instead of letting them down gently she finds it far easier to smother them with a pillow or push them into the Hudson. Feeling justified and completely remorseless, Grace meanwhile continues her busy life as a journalist for a political magazine. But unbeknownst to her, Sam has been watching her all along (the story is told in alternating narratives, Grace’s and Sam’s). A Russian assassin now in private practice since the end of the Cold War, Sam first spots Grace while randomly testing some new eavesdropping equipment in a bar she frequents. Strangely intrigued, he follows her and her unlucky date home, witnessing her subsequent disposal of the body; and when he watches number two hit the river, he knows he has found his soulmate. Date number three exhibits a violent streak, leading Grace to another (though more justifiable) murder. Sam gallantly gets rid of the body for her, his way of introduction, and the two begin an edgy romance, despite Sam’s fear that Grace may be turning into a serial killer and her secret worry that she’ll have to him if he becomes too fond of her. Added to the complicated relationship is Sam’s new-found respect for life—paid hits lack the excitement they once aroused. Will this couple end up killing each other? Will they find consummate happiness? Sacks’s slim story offers few real surprises, though it manages to pull its own weight with droll humor and surprisingly sympathetic characters. An entertaining (if narrow-in-scope) take on women who just can’t say no.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-19306-8
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998