Debut author Margolin offers a psychosexual drama that reads more like a horror novel as the action progresses.
A young woman named Addie Kirksey begins to stalk older psychiatrist Dr. Renatus Rosen after seeing a picture of him in a magazine article. Soon her behavior escalates from watching him at the Java House to getting a job with the company that cleans his apartment to eventually becoming his patient. This initially seems to be a setup for a standard thriller about a woman obsessed, but Rosen is no innocent victim. Addie’s fantasies are those of a disturbed person, driven by her mother’s abuse, but Rosen has fantasies of his own. He remembers Addie from the coffee shop and begins cultivating a lust for her—one that’s much more pedestrian than her obsession, but no less dangerous. He’s grown bored with his marriage to Janice, a successful businesswoman, and meeting Addie was exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. What Margolin does exceptionally well is show the confluence of delusion: how Addie and Rosen both rationalize their actions, even as they begin to hurt those around them. That pain is psychological, at first, but the tone shifts when the threat of physical danger arises. Much of the book is rooted in Addie’s and Rosen’s twisted, personal thoughts, but Margolin balances them well with action in the outside world. The story is well-paced, leading up to what feels like an inevitable conclusion. There are a couple of minor flaws, however; for example, a piece of evidence that Addie uses to keep Dr. Rosen from leaving her at one point—a sweater—seems fairly thin and contrived, considering its importance to the plot. Also, the epilogue feels tacked on, like the final frame of a horror film in which the monster, thought to be dead, suddenly opens its eyes.
A smartly constructed drama about the horrifying consequences of lying—especially to oneself.