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Secret Smile


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About the Author

Nicci French is the author of Catch Me When I Fall, Secret Smile, Land of the Living, Killing Me Softly, The Red Room, and Beneath the Skin. She lives near Ipswich, England.


Nobody does the dark underside of sex in the city better than the British couple who write as Nicci French, and their latest (after 2003's Land of the Living) is one of their most sustained and believable studies in terror against women. Miranda Cotton has an ideal life in London, doing work she loves (building and contracting; she always seems to have a spot of paint in her hair), with no current love interest but lots of dating opportunities. Then a short, nasty liaison with a man who calls himself Brendan Block rips her comfortable world apart. A charming and dangerous psychopath, Block worms his way into the Cotton family claiming that he dumped Miranda (when in fact it was she who tossed him out when she caught him reading her diaries); he immediately wins the trust of her flustered parents and does serious damage to her older sister, Kerry, and her mentally fragile younger brother, Troy. The trouble is that nobody believes the rather rough-edged Miranda when she tries desperately to stop Block's rampage. Studded with sharp insights into the strange compromises involved in modern relationships, this novel could be the horror version of Bridget Jones's Diary. And the authors are so subtle at bringing Brendan and Miranda to life that readers might even begin to doubt that what she's telling us is the whole truth-until a stunning climax in which all sorts of secrets and lies are revealed. Agent, Joy Harris. (Jun. 22) FYI: Nicci French is the pseudonym of English journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

When Londoner Miranda discovers that Brendan, the man she has been dating for only a short while, has let himself into her flat and read her diary, she is horrified and quickly dumps him. She is stunned when she learns a few weeks later that he is dating her sister, Kerry, and has charmed her entire family into believing that he dumped her and that she is bitter about it. When Brendan and Kerry's plan to move into an apartment together hits a snag, Miranda is pressured into letting them stay with her temporarily. Things go from bad to worse as Brendan harasses and taunts Miranda and wreaks havoc in the lives of the people she loves. Miranda is desperate for someone-a family member, a friend, a police officer-to see what she sees and knows before more damage is done. The cold, detached writing style adds to the tension and is perfect for this genre. Unfortunately predictable at times, French's latest (after The Land of the Living) is still a fast read with some shocking moments and surprise twists. Public libraries should expect heavy summer demand. [French is the pseudonym for English journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French.-Ed.]-Samantha J. Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib., NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"Nicci French again achieves a magic blend of taut terror and elegant turn of phrase."

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