THE EX by John Lutz



 Private-eye specialist Lutz, who did so much to popularize the genre of the nanny/cop/temp/girlfriend from hell with SWF Seeks Same (1989), is back with--what else?--the ex-wife from hell. David Jones is a lucky New Yorker, supervisor of fee readers at a literary agency, with a perfect wife, free-lance copy editor Molly, and a perfect kid, three-year-old Michael, who's so perfect that he sleeps later than his parents. Unfortunately, David's ex-wife, Deirdre, is less than perfect. When a tornado sets her loose from the Missouri mental institution where she's been locked up since threatening her second ex-husband, she turns up in Manhattan, sexy, self-possessed, stylish, and anxious to pick up where she left off with David six years ago. Not wanting to admit that Deirdre is a world-class seducer/manipulator/controller, David falls into her clutches with hardly a protest, and before long she's handcuffing him in a mortician's rest room for a nostalgic round of post-conjugal bliss. For the first half of the book, undemanding readers will have a fine time watching Deirdre hesitate among possible victims (old friend Darlene? besotted new lover Craig? Michael's preschool teacher or babysitter? the Jones's cat?) like a discriminating window-shopper. Eventually, though, the echoes of SWF Seeks Same get downright oppressive, as Deirdre, who's already whetted her appetite with lesser blood, moves into David's building, starts to blackmail David, helps herself to Molly's perfume and wardrobe, and begins to attack the remaining cast members with garden tools. Molly perceptively moans, ``She wants my life and I'm in the way''--but not soon enough to stop the obligatory kidnapping of her son, who's tortured to death and sold for dog meat. Just kidding about that last part, which shows just how predictable the whole scenario is. Familiar pleasures-and-pains slickly packaged. Veterans of Lutz's earlier New York paranoid fantasy might as well wait for the film now in production via Mark Lester.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-57566-078-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1996


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