A bizarre killer, a beset heroine, a relentlessly bleak novel after a relentlessly bleak debut.
Anna Neale is pretty, scholarly, completely absorbed in her discipline (entomology), and absolutely clueless outside it. If
it's not about insects, a friend points out, her curiosity is nil—an insight accounting for the nonstop bewilderment Anna
experiences after the sudden death of her husband. Nick, she discovers, had affairs she didn't know about, a law practice wildly
different from the one she'd imagined, and a son of whose very existence she had no inkling. Her world rocks, stability the stuff
of some other life. Most difficult for her to come to terms with is the way Nick died: by anaphylactic shock as the result of a
bee sting—when all his life Nick had been on guard against precisely that, thoroughly aware of how easily he could be poisoned.
This would not have seemed so strange, though, if self-absorbed Anna had understood the reality of what had been happening.
Not strange at all, given the twisted nature of one Michael Mullen and the games he relished playing, not to mention how
intensely he'd been watching Anna and the degree to which he wanted her. And yet she was by no means the first of his special
targets. Successful, oh-so-plausible Michael, dabbler in real estate, dealer in drugs, is by avocation a stalker, a particular kind.
He stalks women with rascally husbands, chooses his moment to murder same, then reveals to the grieving widows the
excruciating details of how they've been cheated and betrayed. He thinks of that as his courtship gift. Angered and vulnerable,
so do his prey.
As well written and carefully plotted as Parsons’s first effort (Mary, Mary, 1999), but it's such an unrelieved funeral march.
Next time out, a little light music, please.