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Beneath the Skin: French, Nicci

Beneath the Skin

French, Nicci

ISBN 10: 0718144503 / ISBN 13: 9780718144500
Published by Penguin Putnam~trade, 2000
Used Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
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About this Item

Michael Joseph, London, 2000. Hard Cover w/dj. First edition, first printing (stated with complete number line). SIGNED by both authors on the title page. Nicci French is the pseudonym for British husband and wife journalists, Nicci Gerrard, who worked for the Observer, and Sean French, who wrote for the New Statesman. The interior is crisp and clean, with no marks, other signatures or signs of previous use. Bindings are fresh showing no wear. DJ is lightly shelfworn, not price-clipped (£9.95) and protected in mylar jacket. Book and DJ condition: near fine. Bookseller Inventory # 5670

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Beneath the Skin

Publisher: Penguin Putnam~trade

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Zoe, Jenny and Nadia, different ages, different walks of life, all receive anonymous notes saying they are going to be killed. The three lives are turned upside down as the police search for what has attracted the attention of a killer.


"When she laughs, she makes a pealing sound, like a doorbell. If I told her I loved her, she would laugh at me like that. She would think I was not serious. That is what women do. They turn what is serious and big into a small thing, a joke. Love is not a joke. It is a matter of life and death. One day, soon, she will understand that."

Zoe, a pretty blond schoolteacher. Jenny, a former hand model turned model wife and mother. Nadia, an irrepressible free spirit who entertains at children's parties. Three women living in different parts of London, grappling with different problems, sheltering different dreams--their lives and narratives linked only by the singular madness of a sadistic stalker. As they move slowly through the sweltering heat of summer, someone is sending these women letters that let each know she is being watched, studied, and loved from afar--even unto death.

Beneath the Skin is a spooky, highly effective psychological thriller. Initially, the women refuse, as do the police, to take the threats seriously--they are happy, they are inviolable; surely these letters are the work of a harmless crank. But the novel watches Zoe, Nadia, and Jenny move from blithely insouciant denial, to frustration, to creeping terror, and finally to the stark realization that neither they nor anyone else will prevent this killer from destroying them. French skillfully evokes the insidiousness with which the letters invade the women's lives, straining and shattering relationships, pushing each toward fearful insanity. Perhaps the novel's greatest appeal lies in its mordant irony: not only do the stalker's threats push and fester "beneath the skin," but they also draw out the flaws and terrors that are already there. French sketches the women's weaknesses and fears with merciless accuracy, stripping them naked long before the killer arrives to finish what his letters have begun.

The author's talent for psychological portraiture is, in fact, so great as to undermine, however slightly, the novel itself. We become so aware of the women, of their responses, of their needs, that the actual murders arrive as an almost superfluous intrusion. We respect the demands of the genre--a thriller needs thrills, after all--but wistfully regret the loss of the victims, even as we guiltily acknowledge our own voyeuristic culpability in their disintegration. --Kelly Flynn

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