A PERFECT CRIME by Peter Abrahams


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A simple case of adultery leads to more fatalities than the Gulf War in Abrahams’s tense, formulaic domestic thriller. Since Beacon Hill art consultant Francie Cullingwood’s old friend Brenda, Countess Vasari, doesn’t leave Rome from year to year for the chillier comforts of her cottage on its own New Hampshire island, it’s only natural that she give Francie the keys so that she can check up on the cottage from time to time—and just as natural for Francie to use it to entertain her friend Dr. Ned Demarco, the bronzed phone-in radio guru of Intimately Yours. All goes well with their weekly trysts until (1) Francie’s husband Roger, fired from his executive-level job despite the stratospheric IQ, catches on to his wife’s dalliance, and (2) Francie realizes that Anne Franklin, the warmly appealing tennis partner with whom she’s making a run at the club championship, is Ned’s wife. Lovable Anne doesn’t suspect a thing, of course, but Roger, with all those unemployed IQ points idling on high, wastes no time in plotting —murder most antiseptic.— Taking the first of several leaves from Dial M for Murder, he decides that the least suspicious way to get rid of Francie is to hire a cat’s paw he can kill himself moments after his unwitting accomplice pulls the trigger. And there’s a perfect candidate waiting in the wings: Whitey Truax, now on parole in Florida after raping and murdering Sue Savard, the wife of the police chief who’ll be investigating the case. Better-read fans than Roger will know, of course, that the choice of Whitey (whose determined stupidity, a savagely comic echo of Roger’s shallow arrogance, is Abrahams’s most original touch) is the last thing that will go right with Roger’s foolproof, but not geniusproof, scheme. One other surefire prediction: With Hard Rain (1987) and The Fan (1995) already turned into Hollywood movies, this property, suitably pruned and tightened, can’t be far behind. (First printing of 100,000)

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1998
ISBN: 0-345-42384-4
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1998


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