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Krist, Gary.

ISBN 10: 1857027655 / ISBN 13: 9781857027655
Published by RANDOM HOUSE. NY 1998, 1998
Condition: Fine Soft cover
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UNCORRECTED PROOF. Fine in plain patterned wrappers. (LC). Bookseller Inventory # 1313

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Bibliographic Details


Publisher: RANDOM HOUSE. NY 1998

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Softcover

Book Condition:Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


Bad Chemistry poses an unsettling question: How much do we really know about the people we love--or about ourselves?

Kate Theodorus used to be a cop in Chicago.  Eager to escape the ugliness and violence of police work, she moved to Washington, D.C., to create a new life for herself as a social worker.  There she married Joel Baker, a successful entrepreneur whose edgy nonconformism--so different form the conservatism of her overprotective family of Greek cops--seemed to mesh perfectly with her new conception of herself.  Three years later, on a snowy November night, Joel leaves the house to pick up some groceries.  He never returns.  Kate embarks on a search for her husband--and for the truth about the parts of his life that he has hidden from her.  When the police unearth evidence connecting Joel to illegal drug trafficking and a murdered biochemist, Kate finds herself thrust back into the familiar world of clues, surveillance, and guns that she thought she had left behind.  But this time, she's operating outside the law she was sworn to enforce.

In Bad Chemistry, literary prizewinner Gary Krist has created a taut story of suspense, a charged tale of a woman's struggle to resolve conflicts within her marriage and within herself.  As the story races to its intense conclusion, Kate must face the disturbing fact that her journey has taken her to places no one would ever want to go.


During the 1980s, Gary Krist won a solid reputation as a decidedly literary author. In collections such as Bone by Bone and The Garden State, his characters wrestle with a variety of down-to-earth dilemmas--family discord, bum relationships, career confusions--and their success or failure at resolving these problems makes for elegant and intelligent narratives. This time around, however, Krist applies his psychological deftness to a more pulse-pounding genre, attempting to produce that chimerical creature, the thinking person's thriller. Has he succeeded?

That he has. Bad Chemistry revolves around Kate Theodorus, a former beat cop turned social worker. After a discomforting opening--a party at which a dog is mysteriously set aflame--Kate's husband Joel heads out to a convenience store for some microwave popcorn. Hours pass, then days, and still he fails to return. Has Joel been kidnapped? Has something gone seriously wrong with his importing business (which does, after all, sell "natural" pharmaceuticals from the Amazon basin)? With the aid of the most unappealing 14-year-old computer hacker in existence, Kate takes the case into her own hands, swiftly stumbling across cybercrime, robbery, and a selection of corpses. As the mystery of Joel's disappearance unravels, Krist keeps the pages turning very nicely. What's more, he makes the missing-person motif work metaphorically, as a figure for all of our inherently ambiguous relationships: "What a mystery marriage is," Kate thinks, "any marriage, every marriage. You try to make it good, but you never really know if you're succeeding." Fusing psychological insight with a cops-and-robbers plot isn't easy, but for the most part, Krist has pulled off this bit of literary chemistry with admirable expertise.

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