Fiction (Mystery) Michael Stewart Compulsion

ISBN 13: 9780060177676

Compulsion

3.2 avg rating
( 10 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780060177676: Compulsion

A successful woman's guilt over her infant son's death is exacerbated by the suicide of one of the models she employs when she falls into an obsessive, dangerous affair with the girl's lover. By the author of Belladonna.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Wasting no time in preliminaries, Stewart (Belladonna, 1992, etc.) opens with mutilated model Cristina Parigi's frantic, fatal, very public plunge into the East River and then, within a few pages, shows her employer already erotically re-creating herself as Cristina. Why is Joanna Lefever--married to brilliant British psychologist Stephen Lefever, mother of budding beauty Bella, successful head of Designing Women, ridiculously wealthy by inheritance (much sumptuous detail about her Mercedes and the family charitable trust she heads)- -so desperately taken by the desire to masquerade as dead Cristina, taking her Upper West Side apartment and making herself over with clothes, scent, wigs? She thinks it's the commanding presence of Mephistophelian painter Louis van Nyman, whom she repeatedly follows out of receptions and into luxurious cars for quick, brutal, upscale sex. But as one of Stephen's new colleagues at Berkeley painstakingly explains to him--after the rift between Mr. and Ms. Right widens when his chair at Columbia fires him (making it clear that his visiting professorship has depended on the funding they've all counted on from his wife's trust)--she's so maddened by grief over the death of their baby Luke two years ago that she literally can't bear to be herself. Stephen (along with all but the dimmest of readers) already knows just how true that is, since Joanna can't forgive herself for cutting short Luke's agonized bout with cancer by administering a merciful injection, and has been battling her own demons--personified by Luke's blackmailing former nurse--ever since. If she looked into her new lover's r‚sum‚, she'd see that she was due for all the punishment she craved, since Louis specializes in harrowingly realistic studies of martyrs' dying torments. Workaday suspense alternating with steamy soft-focus sex tableaux, by turns hypnotic and silly (``he could see through her skin to the subcutaneous structure of her body'')--like a more elaborately plotted version of Damage. -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

If readers can swallow the premise--a casual encounter leads a successful professional woman to sexual slavery and a dual identity--Stewart's seventh novel (after Belladonna ) will make for a gripping read. The erotic thriller opens with a young model named Cristina Parigi throwing herself into the East River. Joanna Lefever, owner of the high-class Manhattan couture house where Cristina worked, discovers that the model led a secret life as a call girl. Haunted by the death of her infant son, her soul deadened by a disintegrating marriage to a Columbia University professor, Joanna starts wearing Cristina's clothes and going out on her dates--one of whom, the sinister artist Louis, casts a Svengali-like spell over her. To make his heroine's choice of a double life credible, Stewart loads a world of troubles on her shoulders: she is being blackmailed by her son's ex-nurse, her husband is blatantly unfaithful, etc. None of this quite justifies Joanna's descent into total sexual submission, but it does give her a lot more personality than the average thriller's woman-in-peril. Overall, the writing is taut and exciting, the characters are realistically flawed and the erotic element--which is about power more than sex--is dark and disturbing.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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