After two in England, French brings her third to the US—an elegant, chilling take on love, murder, and obsession. Alice Loudon is young, brainy, and beautiful. She has a comfortable London apartment, a satisfactory lover, and an enviable job on the science side of industry. The direction of her life seems already settled, then, but it isn’t. Crossing a street on her way to work one morning, she locks eyes with a tall, unbelievably handsome, stranger—and suddenly she’s lost. When she leaves her building later that day, he’s waiting for her. When he asks her to go with him, she does. He’s Adam Tallis, a celebrated mountaineer, a hero, having recently saved several lives during a notorious and doomed climbing expedition. The two make love explosively. Not just good sex, or great sex, Alice thinks, but “obliterating sex.” She also thinks she might be going mad. Whatever the reality, she can’t stop what’s happening to her. Gone in an eye-blink are the comfortable apartment and the satisfactory lover. Two months from the time of their first meeting, Alice and Adam are married, but almost at once Alice feels uneasy, afraid. Who is this man she’s entangled with? Is the violence she senses in him controllable? What about those women in his past, those women now no longer alive? Three accidental deaths? At what point does coincidence become something else—like menacing? Reluctantly, Alice turns detective. The truth is her survival tool, and she needs it as much as Adam needs her not to find it. Still passionately in love, they eye each other warily, they maneuver around each other, and when finally they clash, it’s shattering. Tight plotting, impeccable prose, fleshed-out characters: writer to welcome and watch.(Film rights to Montecito Picture Co.; Literary Guild featured alternate, Doubleday Book Club, Mystery Guild) . . . Furutani, Dale JADE PALACE VENDETTA Morrow (256 pp.) $23.00 Jul. 1999 ISBN: 0-688-15818-8 Jade Palace Vendetta ($23.00; Jul.; 256 pp.; 0-688-15818-8): The second installment in Furutani’s samurai trilogy (Death at the Crossroads, 1998) finds freelance warrior Matsuyama Kaze interrupting his search for his dead lord’s son to save merchant Hishigawa Satoyasu from murderous bandits—and then getting plenty of chances to regret the act of courage that’s landed him in a stew of deception and treachery.