ANGEL by Nicholas Guild


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Guild (The Blood Star, 1989, etc.) has been all over the fictional map in his writerly career, from WW II to ancient Assyria, but his latest--a psychothriller with crime-novel undertones--shows the novelist wearying of Nazis and slipping into a domesticated vein. The housekeeping, however, is deeply twisted. Gorgeous, cool, calculating, schizophrenic, murderous, and way jealous Angel is a serial killer with a savage fashion sense to match her complete lack of remorse. Formerly something of a teen society slut, she's now, in her mid-20s, working her way through the Connecticut high-school football team she supposedly slept with. The torch she carries is for Jim Kinkaid, a small-town lawyer who fell for her during a long-lost summer vacation but was driven off by her overbearing grandmother. Jim has problems of his own--his father has recently died, leaving him the family firm and responsibility for Angel's family estate--but things start coming up daisies when he meets, and falls hard for, Lisa Milano, a plucky real-estate agent. News of his emerging bliss in the arms of another rocks Angel's fantasy world, and it's off to the races to see whether anyone will escape this twisted triangle alive. Added to the fray is savvy, mildly crusty cop Warren Pratt, who's been on Angel's tail ever since he found one of her victims with a slit throat, flayed of face and shaved of genitals, in a seedy motel room. Guild has a strong sense for the furtively delivered plot twist, but his story peters out once Angel kidnaps Lisa and lures Jim into her lair; from here on the novel boils down to a standard beat-the-clock formula to save the damsel in distress. There's some entertaining tough talk along the way, though, together with a few dimwitted mobsters who meet grisly ends. A curiosity for the genre, sort of like what might happen if Basic Instinct got crossed with It's a Wonderful Life.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Carroll & Graf