A shivery psychological thriller about a beautiful young female stalker.
Jonah Stem, medical student at New York’s St. Agatha Hospital, is undergoing the damnable tortures of the Third Year. Whereas these can be painful, exhausting and, often as not, humiliating, they’re hardly a surprise to him, since “he’s read the Book, heard it from the Ghosts of Third Years Past.” He’s prepared, he’s coping, he’s even enjoying it all a little. What’s about to happen to him, however, is so unexpected and unsettling that it transcends the possibility of preparation. And forget about coping. On an otherwise ordinary night, on his way home from St. Aggie’s, Jonah Stem kills a man. Traumatic as that is, it’s only a link in a chain of events culminating in irreparable loss. He hears the terrified scream, sees her, her hand dripping blood. Next, there’s her assailant, who an instant later becomes Jonah’s. Finally, at the end of a brief but ferocious struggle, there’s a knifing and death. Like a surgeon, “he’d removed a man’s violence,” he takes to telling himself in defense against guilt. She is Eve Jones—lovely and grateful, almost relentlessly grateful. The affair that springs up between them has the quality of the inevitable. But Eve is a dark one, with sides to her that are both complex and disturbing, so much so that Jonah decides to break off the relationship. Not his decision to make, says Eve, which is when Jonah begins to understand how much trouble he’s in. And how wrong he’s been about the woman he once thought of as a victim.
After a relatively cheery debut, the talented Kellerman (Sunstroke, 2005) travels to Ruth Rendell country, and the bet here is you won’t have read a more nightmarish novel all year.