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Hutton, author of a vile sex-and-gore-fest (Address Unknown, 1982), tones down his luridness considerably in this mildly creepy, rather wry tale--all about the kinks and secrets of a small English town. Georgina and Georgette are the twin daughters of slatternly, soon-widowed Gladys Itabenhowe: identical twins who grow up obsessively close, impossible to tell apart, tricky and spoiled, with extra funds for their upbringing from local tycoon Mr. Mayfield. (Amateur blackmailer Gladys knows Mayfield's secret: he is the real father of retarded Hughie Cole, the twins' only intimate playmate--and their loyal, hefty protector.) Bewitching as teenagers, Georgina and Georgette gain a fast-and-loose reputation for their mÉnage à trois dating--to the dismay of their childhood admirer Robert Oakleigh, the local M.D.'s son. Then, when Gladys dies and the ever-mysterious twins establish their own household, Robert's longtime love for Georgette (he can tell them apart) is tenderly consummated--as he discovers that his supposedly promiscuous sweetheart is a virgin. But, almost immediately, Robert finds himself dumped by Georgette; the twins seem to be up to their old tricks, installing a shadowy young man named Albert in their house. And it's only after Georgette dies in a car crash (engineered by the twins' lifelong enemy Billy Staton) that Robert learns the Truth. . . about Albert, his Georgette affair, and the twins' enduring interrelationship. Hutton fills out this tiny tale with stray village subplots that never link up in a satisfying way: Mr. Mayfield's yen for prepubescent girls; the rough homosexual liaison between Mayfield's effeminate son and local troublemaker Billy (ending with a grisly death). And the central puzzle is thin stuff, more appropriate for a short story. Still: the crisp, dry, slightly black-comic narration makes this a passable mini-entertainment--for those partial to nasty goings-on in quiet English-village surroundings.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's