Monday, August 8, 2011

In Malice, Quite CloseIn Malice, Quite Close by Brandi Lynn Ryder

In Malice, Quite CloseIn Malice, Quite Close by Brandi Lynn Ryder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads: A haunting and sophisticated debut in which priceless art and unspeakable desires converge.

French ex-pat Tristan Mourault is the wealthy, urbane heir to a world- renowned collection of art-and an insatiable voyeur enamored with Karen Miller, a fifteen-year-old girl from a working-class family in San Francisco. Deciding he must "rescue" Karen from her unhappy circumstances, Tristan kidnaps her and stages her death to mask his true crime.

Years later, Karen is now "Gisele" and the pair lead an opulent life in idyllic and rarefied Devon, Washington. But when Nicola, Gisele's young daughter, stumbles upon a secret cache of paintings-all nudes of Gisele-Tristan's carefully constructed world begins to crumble. As Nicola grapples with the tragedy that follows, she crosses paths with Amanda Miller, who comes to Devon to investigate the portraits' uncanny resemblance to her long-lost sister.

Set against a byzantine backdrop of greed, artifice, and dangerous manipulations, In Malice, Quite Close is an intoxicating debut that keeps its darkest secrets until the very last page.

My take: I don't even know how to review this book! It is multi-layered and not straight-forward in any way. Ultimately, I believe the author is using the complex characters in the book to dispel the idea of truth being the only reality when "truth" does not necessarily exist except in the mind of the interpreter.

It is a disturbing story that is artfully told. I honestly could not put the book down. In fact, like art, interpretation is very personal and represents a culmination of a person's experiences. Kind of like a Rorschach test only using more than ink blots. The twists and turns the book takes was intriguing and the at last dizzying when coming so fast. 

As one character points out, humans love riddles and will obsess over them. Life is full of unsolved mysteries that plague me years later. The author created an enigmatic character, Giselle, that nobody really knew except in bits and pieces. Even when combined in one room, those bits and pieces did not quite make up the entire woman. She was a riddle that became and obsession for many.

The content and the story is very well planned and executed, leaving the more disturbing aspects eclipsed by the novel itself. The mysteries kept me turning the pages because I wanted to know the answers to the riddles which kept revealing more riddles. This one I would encourage to a book group, although not to the ladies in my congregation. Not that I don't think they should read it because I enjoyed it in a twisted sort of way. I simply don't want their version of the truth of me to be interpreted by the books I recommend. For them, I recommend Pollyanna.

Sexual content: High amount and part of Giselle's feelings of worth

Dialogue: Moderate swearing. "F" word used.

Violence: Moderate

Content: Taboo subjects are addressed although not necessarily acted out in the way the reader might have expected. Predatory sexual acts, rape, incest, exhibitionism, voyeurism, among other subjects are broached. Remembering that I am a prude in my inner core, I did not find the approach to be inappropriate. If I am more specific, I will spoil the book.

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