Moynahan's sometimes disturbing first novel charts a young New York actress's disintegration through anorexia, drugs, and sadomasochistic sex following her sister's violent murder. Heroine Cordelia has got problems from the start: she's estranged from her father; most of the family disapproves of her faltering career; even with various part-time jobs, she can't keep up with her bills; and she can't quite get over Harrison, the charming but unable-to-commit (white) South African she met in Ireland. Her staunchest support was always her older sister, Cynthia, a doctor devoted to working with the poor. When Cynthia is brutally stabbed to death, Cordelia becomes obsessed with the inevitability of violence; she can't let her sister go and tries to feel close to her by depriving herself, drawing close to death. In the meantime, she bounces between two inappropriate men--rich, corrupt, violent Philip, who gives her $1000 after their first kinky sexual encounter, pulls strings to get her work in commercials, and says, ""I thought anyone who could suffer that much would have to be some phenomenal fuck""; and Harrison, now married but separated, who pops up whenever the plot requires. A suicide attempt at Cynthia's grave is Cordelia's most extreme act, as well as the turning point that may lead back to health. Alas, her grief is really all that makes Cordelia interesting; still, Moynahan's portrayal of her pain and loss and the self-destructive inner logic of her behavior is masterful. A promising, at times passionate, debut.