SEDUCTION by Catherine Gildiner (Knopf), 480 pages, $34.95 cloth. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Seduction is a downer at first. It takes me a few hundred pages to get used to the fact that the author of Too Close To The Falls isn't going to deliver a novel with the depth of that awesome memoir.
But this detective thriller with an intellectual edge is entertaining.
Freud expert Kate Fitzgerald, in jail for killing her husband, is recruited by prison shrink Dr. Gardonne to investigate why the director of the Freud Academy is receiving threats.
The director, Anders Konzak (obviously derived from real-life iconoclast Jeffrey Masson), may or may not be about to publish some not-nice things about the founder of psychoanalysis and his seduction theory.
When Konzak is found murdered, Kate's follow-up with suspects results in a trail of dead bodies. Worse, she's the last person seen with all the victims.
And then there's her hunky collaborator, also hired by Gardonne - private dick and ex-con Jackie Lawton. He thinks she's paranoid. She thinks he may not have given up all criminal activities.
As the mystery unfolds, we get reams of discourse on Freud, his cocaine habit, Darwin and his Wedgwood connection, how sex fits into the theories of both groundbreakers, the strategies of sleazy prison shrinks and the nature of paranoia - all of it fascinating.
But although the characters - especially Kate and the suspect Von Enchanhauer - are well drawn, we don't get much emotional heft.
Kate starts the book by confessing that she can't remember why she killed her husband - but Gildiner doesn't deliver on the promise of that opening line.
We get something else instead - something very clever, something that's definitely a cut above other thrillers, but nothing close to that incredible memoir of hers.
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