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A Perfect Crime [Hardcover]

Peter Abrahams
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 8 1998
In this gripping novel of suspense, acclaimed author Peter Abrahams gives us an explosive thriller of lust and retribution, desire and accountability, murder and reckoning--set in motion by an illicit love that ticks like a time bomb. A master at creating menacing intrigue and shocking reversals, Abrahams has indeed devised A Perfect Crime.

When an adulterous affair is revealed, a devious mind begins to construct the perfect, flawless crime. No loose ends. Everything considered: motive, means, opportunity, evidence, suspects, alibis. The perpetrator must remain an invisible presence, seeing the plot through to its chilling conclusion, manipulating the players like chess pieces in an intricate, deadly game.

The unfaithful wife.

With her no-nonsense business savvy and exquisite eye for acquisition, Francie is a rising star in the Boston art world. But her personal life is about to take a decidedly dark turn. . . .

The cheating lover.

A virile and charismatic radio psychologist, Ned hosts a popular show poised on the brink of syndication. Though married and successful, he has one fatal weakness. . . .

The loyal friend.

Anne, a vulnerable and trusting wife and mother, desperately needs to confide in someone. Unfortunately, some secrets aren't meant to be shared. . . .

The jealous husband.

Exeter, first in his class. Harvard, summa in economics. Now out of work and falling fast, Roger conceives a brilliant, violent plan that could put him back on top. . . .

The ultimate act of revenge.

In Peter Abrahams's stunning new thriller, four lives hang in precarious balance--as a cunning mastermind prepares their roles in A Perfect Crime.

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Product Description

From Amazon

Though he is a very smart man (his IQ is 181, "on a bad day"), Roger Cullingwood is remarkably unperceptive. It takes months for him to realize that his wife Francie is involved with another man. But once he recognizes the affair, he hatches a plot to kill her--the perfect crime of the title--in less time than it takes him to finish the London Times crossword puzzle. It makes perfect sense that Roger wouldn't dream of doing the dirty deed himself; there's a paroled killer conveniently on hand, an easily manipulated psychotic named Whitey Truax. It's when Anne Franklin, the wife of Francie's lover, blunders into the murder scene Roger has so carefully contrived that the novel begins to get interesting. There are a few diversions to entertain the reader en route to the bloody denouement, including a couple of lively tennis matches. In one of the book's many coincidences, Francie ends up partnered with her lover's wife in a championship tournament. The sex is better than the violence, but what Abrahams excels at is pace; you could start and finish A Perfect Crime on the New York to Los Angeles redeye and still have time for a nap before the plane lands. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

A Boston woman's ill-advised affair with a talk-show host leads to murder and mayhem in this initially absorbing but somewhat contrived thriller from the author of The Fan and Lights Out. Art critic Francie Cullingwood is the beautiful, sophisticated and dissatisfied protagonist who seeks sexual satisfaction outside her stale marriage. Her lover is Ned DeMarco, a handsome, touchy-feely psychiatrist who hosts a radio show for the emotionally forlorn. Their passionate arrangement begins to unravel when Roger, Francie's brilliant but angry husband (a Harvard summa who's been fired from his job as a securities analyst), suspects her adultery and hires a hit man, Whitey Truax, to exact revenge on his spouse. Truax, it turns out, is a serial killer with a very short fuse. The tension rises as Abrahams cuts between the plot participants: Ned's wife, Anne, becomes Francie's tennis partner, making Francie aware of the damage the affair is causing, while Ned desperately clings to their involvement and Roger plots his bizarre campaign of retribution. The initial showdown between Whitey and his potential victims takes place at the adulterous couple's love nest, a New Hampshire cottage that quickly becomes a house of horrors when Whitey suspects Roger of double-crossing him, and runs amok on a killing spree that eventually leads back to Boston. Abrahams does his best work in a series of well-crafted early scenes that effectively convey the different levels of emotional duplicity among the protagonists, but the actual murders are strictly formulaic. While Francie, Ned and Anne are well-drawn, Abrahams's portrayals of both Roger and his minion lack dimension; they are both plot devices whose ludicrous partnership never carries the ring of credibility. Even so, as he explores Francie's emotional terrain in the wake of tragedy, Abrahams will keep readers very much engaged. Agent, Molly Friedrich; 100,000 first printing.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Novel of Coincidences and Twists Sept. 23 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A Perfect Crime is a great psychological thriller that races away at the beginning but becomes slightly derailed at the end. The basic premise is: Francie and Ned are having an affair. Francie's vile husband Roger finds out about it and plans to kill them both. However, the twists and coincidences that occur are startling and exciting and make this thriller into something very original.
I especially loved the backdrop to this thriller. The weather is always cold and icy and the house where Francie and Ned meet in centred on an island and can only be reached by rowing across in a small boat. These elements provide great atmosphere and originality. Roger is diabolical and I enjoyed the contrast between how he viewed himself (clever, self assured) and the way others saw him (strange nutcase!).
Overall A Perfect Crime is a competent thriller with short sections and snappy dialogue. The characters are well developed although certain aspects seemed unlikely such as Roger thinking he'd be able to control Whitey Truax so perfectly that he could commit the perfect murder where he couldn't be implicated. However, this book is filled with suspense and surprises, so you'd be wise to give it a go. I'm glad I did.
JoAnne
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too many coincidences March 1 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Francie and Roger Cullingwood are drifting apart. Roger has been looking for a job for the past year after being fired, Francie is unhappy with her marriage and she has been having an affair with radio psychologist, Ned DeMarco. She is also having doubts with her affair since meeting Ned's wife, who through unforeseen circumstances and coincidence winds up being Francie's tennis partner in an important tournament. Roger finds Francie's love nest and he has decided that he wants her dead but just like any other criminal, he does not want to get caught.
After doing some thorough research he decides to manipulate Whitey Truax into committing a crime in which his wife will turn out dead. Just like any other book things do not turn up as planned and all of Roger's scheming have gone done the tubes into a predictable conclusion. Roger thinks he is too smart and that he has planned for every eventuality and this book shows that is not entirely true.
In reading this novel I was expecting a story similar to A SIMPLE PLAN by Scott Smith. This story has too many coincidences that tempted me to stop reading the book. This is my first Peter Abrahams novel and I will try to read him again in the future. He does a good job with characterization but to me the plot fizzled. There were some loose ends that were not clarified and there were at least two characters in the book that I found to be redundant to the storyline. I do not think removing them would have made any difference but that is just how I feel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A PERFECT BLACK COMEDY Aug. 26 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are some really funny scenes in the middle of this book that come out of nowhere, but are so well done, they make this Abrahams book a real winner. Since many have already rehashed the plot, I'd like to focus on some of the characters and subtle ironies that enhance the book. Roger Cullingwood is a perfect idiot, although a brilliant one; some of his rationalizations and thought processes are so bad you have to wonder how he's survived as long as he has. His wife, Francie, has many layers and when she suddenly becomes friends with her lover's wife, it really puts her in a pickle. Anne, the wife of Ned (Francie's lover) is a real whiner, but her depth is brought out once she becomes friends with Francie. Ned, the lover, is a real jerk, and his true personality comes out at the end, and even though you knew it was coming, you still want to bash his head in. The character of Whitey Truax is another one of Abrahams' really sick villains, and his pact with Roger can only end up one way, of course. Who gets murdered comes as a mild surprise, and the clue the person leaves is muddled until you finish the book, flash back and remember why the clue was left. The addition of Joe Savand, the cop whose wife was Truax's first victim, is nice, and his role in the novel comes to a nice fruition in the unexpected ending. Lots of sex talk and gory violence, but it's a great read. I liked it much better than "Crying Wolf," and that was good, too!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Solid, but not overwhelming July 17 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Revolving around a brilliant man's desire to punish his unfaithful wife, it's not really a new story--but there's nothing inherently wrong with stories that have been told before as long as they are executed well. "A Perfect Crime" is well-executed, with a few nicely suspenseful scenes. It's hard to tell if Abrahams really means the title, or if it's a humorous allusion to the primary atagonist's extreme hubris--after all, the crime in question has more than a few flaws. As with almost any mystery, the plot relies on some developments that strain believability, although good characterization and some nicely written scenes carry the day for Abrahams here. I am a bit taken aback by the somewhat lavish praise heaped on this book, by Stephen King and others--it's certainly nothing exceptional, just well-executed suspense. Then again, with the volume of mediocre work on the shelves these days, perhaps a solidly executed story can pass for exceptional. Recommended, just don't expect the world.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST LAID PLANS OFTEN GO AWRY...
This is a page turning thriller with a host of quirky, interesting characters. When two unhappy marriages give rise to the adulterous relationship between the husband in one... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Lawyeraau
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed reaction - exciting but badly plotted
Summary: an average thriller. The other book I read by Abrahams, The Tutor, was far, far superior.
Let's start with the plus: the book was exciting and definitely an... Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read
This is a perfect novel about cheaters and what happens when they are found out, but with a twist of an ending. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2002 by Darren Jacks
5.0 out of 5 stars A sly and suspenseful tour de force
In "A Perfect Crime" Peter Abrahams gives us several well-developed characters, then sets them on a collision course that is as unpredictable as it is inevitable. Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2001 by Diane Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars A PERFECT FAUXPAUX
The way I see it, the genius with the 181 IQ(on a bad day), was actually the village idiot, and the only really good person in the book was unjustly treated. Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2001 by Kenri A. Mugleston
5.0 out of 5 stars Won't be able to put this one down!
This plot took many turns and twists. The characters were well-developed and believable. I couldn't put this book down and was sad to see it end. Read more
Published on Dec 16 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Love's Labors Lost
Others have noted the writer's beautifully crafted prose, exquisitely drawn characterizations, brilliantly rendered sequences, wonderful ear for dialogue. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2000 by mayday
4.0 out of 5 stars good
Good book! Fast paced with twisting plot! I highly recommend!
Published on Sept. 28 2000 by trainee jackie
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!!
I read a lot of thriller/crime novels, and this is probably in the top 20 of all time! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and like his writing style. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2000 by J. T. Leveque
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