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
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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.
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