In this psychological thriller, an author hoping to match her bestselling debut’s success signs a lucrative contract that nudges her into a nightmarish world.
Alexa Wainwright has written quite a few novels since her first book. But while A Foregone Conclusion stayed at No. 1 for a year, her subsequent works haven’t cracked the top 10. Her chance to be a winner again comes from her copy editor, Margaret Hathaway, who introduces Alexa to Alex. His last name is eerily Wainwright, and he is a dead ringer for Foregone character Rick. Alex wants to make Alexa’s not-yet-completed trilogy into a film, but she resists, as the movie adaptation of her debut bombed. The full offer from the company Alex represents, Trinity of Sixes, is unbelievable, promising millions for movies and future books. Reluctant, Alexa meets CEO/Chairman King Blakemore, a surreal encounter in which the novelist is disoriented and sees others resembling characters from her stories. She’s later shocked to learn she has evidently signed a contract with the company. As Trinity slowly turns her newest psychological tale into an erotica piece for mass appeal, Alexa is stuck; the contract language keeps inexplicably changing, closing off potential loopholes. She’s soon certain the company name is a sign: Alexa has made a deal with the devil. Bell’s (Sunspots, 2012, etc.) novel is a sometimes-convoluted but riveting story. Readers, for example, will be just as startled as Alexa by plot twists: her apparent doppelgänger; the suddenly appearing basement door in her home; and a surprising death or two. Answers aren’t easy to come by, which is befitting of the protagonist, who entertains notions that she’s being drugged, hallucinating, or perhaps losing her mind. Regardless, her plight is grounded by her parallel, Jodie, her more relatable literary character drawn to abusive relationships, akin to Alexa’s inability to escape the ruthless contract. The final act addresses various mysteries, including Alexa’s murky history (she isn’t sure of her mother’s birth date), while the ending is appropriately—and smartly—open to interpretation.
A methodically paced but wholly engaging literary tale that revels in its dreamlike plot.