THE REAL JUSTINE by Stephen Amidon


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A few nights of passion ignite a man’s obsession for a mysterious woman in this tale of uncertain identities.

Recently fired from his longtime job at a prestigious left-wing charity for playing Robin Hood with funds that didn’t belong to him, Michael Coolidge is slowly sinking into the depths of depression. His wife has left him, taking their teenage son, and now Michael spends his days drinking and moping around the sleepy upstate New York town of Annville. Things start looking up the night he meets the beautiful Justine in a bar. The two start talking—she tells him she's part of the New York City art gallery scene in town on behalf of a rich client; then one thing leads to another, and Michael finds himself blissfully ensconced in a “staycation” with the sultry Justine. She speaks solely in generalities he finds sexy and the reader finds annoying and also immediately suspicious—only Michael is surprised when she disappears after four days, leaving behind an incomplete phone number and no last name. Nine months later, he sees her again in the company of a man, photographer Desmond Tracey, who soon turns up dead of a suspected drug overdose. Michael, determined to rescue his damsel in distress, digs into the photographer’s past and, making multiple improbable leaps of logic, pieces together a traumatic history for Justine—obviously not her real name—that’s entwined with the power players of Annville.

While there are a few genuine surprises along the way, most of Amidon’s (Security, 2009, etc.) twists are telegraphed so far in advance that it’s a wonder the characters don’t see them coming.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-60598-865-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Pegasus
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2015


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