FINE LINES by Simon Beckett


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 This tart sexual thriller, a first novel from Britain, will redden your cheeks with scandal and your thumbs with soreness as they race to turn each naughty, lascivious page. Alluring Anna Palmer (who is blissfully shacked up with her mousy American boyfriend, doctoral candidate Marty Westerman) unwittingly becomes the obsession of her boss, fussy, middle-aged London art dealer Donald Ramsey. Anna is sweet, smart, and sensual; Donald's flesh is seared by the platonic kisses on the cheek she gives him in gratitude for being a pal and career booster. He decides he must have her, but realizes she's too young and sexy for him. Favoring erotica over sex, trading art over creating it, and subterfuge over straightforwardness, Donald hires handsome hustler Zeppo Marks to seduce Anna on his behalf in hopes that voyeurism's vicarious thrills will sate his desire. For every obstacle that arises, Donald methodically counters with a plan B: Anna won't cheat on Marty, but Marty may be bisexual; have Zeppo try to seduce Marty instead. Zeppo grows petulantly reluctant; blackmail him with gay kiddie porn photos from his past. Marty won't be seduced; kill him. The buildup to and immediate aftermath of the grisly, cold- blooded murder are wound like a coil; the pace speeds, every chapter ends with a cliffhanger, and all of Donald's anxiety and thrills rub off on the reader. Then the novel loses some momentum: The arrival of Marty's Dad creates a domestic muddle, while subplots involving Donald's Freudianly depicted childhood and adult dating crises end with more of a whimper than a bang. But the big bang--a smoldering sex romp--is indeed a climax, and the zany plotting of the unlikely, but ultimately well-matched, crime duo of Zeppo and Donald remains suspenseful and comic. Wry, racy, and literate pulp fun.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-671-89206-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1994