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Envy by Kathryn Harrison

Publisher:  Random House  ISBN:  1-4000-6346-9

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader 

New York therapist Will Moreland attends his twenty-fifth college reunion with an agenda.  He wants to learn more about the daughter his ex-girlfriend gave birth to less than nine months after they broke up.  Although the ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth, claims not to know who her child's father is, her meeting with Will sets off a chain reaction that will have far-reaching consequences in his life.

Back in New York, Will, troubled by constant sexual fantasies about his female patients, begins seeing a new patient:  a young woman who "collects" older men as sexual conquests.  When it becomes clear that she is targeting Will as her new quarry, he attempts to terminate their doctor/patient relationship, but he soon learns that by giving in to her seduction, he may have violated a more shocking taboo.

If this isn't enough, Will learns a disturbing fact about his twin brother, from whom he is estranged, tries to mend his relationship with his wife, and deals with his father's infidelity.

Hypnotic and disquieting, Envy illustrates how jealousy can warp a person, and warns of the dangers inherent in secrecy.  Kathryn Harrison's novel is marred by a few faults other than its unsettling nature (too swift a resolution, poor character development of Will's daughter Samantha), but readers will more likely be put off by its subject matter than by these minor flaws.



Close Case by Alafair Burke

Publisher:  Henry Holt ISBN:  00805077847

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

For those fans of legal thrillers, Close Case by talented Alafair Burke will fill the bill. It takes the reader step-by-step through the development of a case against a defendant and what could happen to make the case disappear at some point in the investigation.

Samantha Kincaid is handed two hot-potato cases that involve race relations as well as suspicious deaths.  She is caught among the many sides of the law in trying to pursue her case with fairness. The defense lawyers, the arresting officers and her bosses in the district attorney's office all seem to want to tell her how to handle the case or at least have a hand in her decision-making process.

This puts a pressure on her private life that causes trouble between her and the police officer she is living with as he is involved in one of the cases.  A delicate balancing act is called for, and that is not Samantha's specialty. She has been know to lose it when pushed too far.

Close Case is written from two points of view, Samantha's first person and third person for the others, an unusual combination in writing style, but it works in this tale. The author has carefully kept them separate and distinct in weaving the plot and subplots.

This is not a shoot 'em up, has no car chases, but does offer a steadily increasing sense of tension as the story progresses, a sense of action to come causing the reader to wonder what will happen next.

Written with a light touch that keeps the pacing even and moving forward, Close Case will hold your attention from beginning to end.  Recommended as a well-told tale that will have you looking for other books by this very able author.  Enjoy.  I did.