US Paperback Edition
"...consumed with portraying the duality of her body...and, perhaps, her soul."
Ross Marteau makes a very good living sculpting female nudes of rich and famous women. When a long-term relationship breaks up badly in Paris where he is finishing a commission, he retreats to his hometown, San Rafael, an artist colony in the Texas hill country. But here his newfound peace of mind is permanently, and profoundly, shattered.
One day Ross is approached by Celeste Lacan, a newcomer to San Rafael. She asks him to take on a new commission, a sculpture of her younger sister, Leda, promising that the job will present artistic challenges unlike any he has encountered before. Though reluctant, Ross is intrigued: by Celeste herself and by a photo of Leda that shows her to be a genuine beauty.
When Ross finally meets Leda, he is stunned to discover that her body is as startlingly unique as her face is beautiful. Just as Celeste predicted, he becomes consumed with portraying the duality of her body...and, perhaps, her soul. Soon Ross is romantically involved with Celeste, but his relationship with Leda is tense and complex. As he begins sculpting Leda, he finds that she is alternately seductive and mystifying, while at the same time Celeste curiously begins to withdraw.
Then a violent murder draws Ross deeper into their world. He learns too late that his bond with these two women is older, darker--and more explosive--than he could ever have imagined.
"...I was in the mood for something smaller and more concentrated, and in a psychological vein."
Animosity is yet another change of pace for me. After The Color of Night, and Requiem for a Glass Heart, both of which were sprawling international thrillers, I was in the mood for something smaller and more concentrated, and in a psychological vein.
I also was wanting to write a story that kept me close to home. Although this story opens and ends in Paris, the majority of the novel occurs in the small town of San Raphael in the Central Texas hill country. I'm a" visual" writer, and I like to see a setting in my head, and on the page. This time I wanted a chance to describe the country I live in every day. (A number of reviewers have let me know that I over-indulge in this regard. I've come to realize that one's tolerance for the descriptive represents a definite dividing line between distinctly different kinds of readers. And those who have a low tolerance for description are vociferous in their objection.)
Another thing about this book that's different from most of my others is the length. For years I've written books that are considerably longer than many of my peers in the trade. Again, after the last two novels--which were on the lengthy side--I wanted a change of pace. And I have to say, I've enjoyed the discipline of telling this story in fewer pages than I'm used to allowing myself.
A SPECIAL NOTE! In addition to the differences between this novel and my other novels addressed above, I need to warn my readers who buy my books thinking that they are always going to get a "thriller" in the genre sense of this word. This novel is different. It is not necessarily a "page turner" as some of my other novels have been. Though there is a mystery--and a murder-- at the center of the story, it is more a mainstream novel. There's a greater emphasis on characters than on action. So if you judge how much you're going to like a novel based upon how fast you're compelled to turn the pages, maybe this one isn't for you. If you have a more thoughtful bent, maybe you'll enjoy it.