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A Perfect Crime Mass Market Paperback – September 7, 1999


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st Mass Market Edition, September 1999 edition (September 7, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345426800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345426802
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,105,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Though he is a very smart man (his IQ is 181, "on a bad day"), Roger Cullingwood is remarkably unperceptive. It takes months for him to realize that his wife Francie is involved with another man. But once he recognizes the affair, he hatches a plot to kill her--the perfect crime of the title--in less time than it takes him to finish the London Times crossword puzzle. It makes perfect sense that Roger wouldn't dream of doing the dirty deed himself; there's a paroled killer conveniently on hand, an easily manipulated psychotic named Whitey Truax. It's when Anne Franklin, the wife of Francie's lover, blunders into the murder scene Roger has so carefully contrived that the novel begins to get interesting. There are a few diversions to entertain the reader en route to the bloody denouement, including a couple of lively tennis matches. In one of the book's many coincidences, Francie ends up partnered with her lover's wife in a championship tournament. The sex is better than the violence, but what Abrahams excels at is pace; you could start and finish A Perfect Crime on the New York to Los Angeles redeye and still have time for a nap before the plane lands. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A Boston woman's ill-advised affair with a talk-show host leads to murder and mayhem in this initially absorbing but somewhat contrived thriller from the author of The Fan and Lights Out. Art critic Francie Cullingwood is the beautiful, sophisticated and dissatisfied protagonist who seeks sexual satisfaction outside her stale marriage. Her lover is Ned DeMarco, a handsome, touchy-feely psychiatrist who hosts a radio show for the emotionally forlorn. Their passionate arrangement begins to unravel when Roger, Francie's brilliant but angry husband (a Harvard summa who's been fired from his job as a securities analyst), suspects her adultery and hires a hit man, Whitey Truax, to exact revenge on his spouse. Truax, it turns out, is a serial killer with a very short fuse. The tension rises as Abrahams cuts between the plot participants: Ned's wife, Anne, becomes Francie's tennis partner, making Francie aware of the damage the affair is causing, while Ned desperately clings to their involvement and Roger plots his bizarre campaign of retribution. The initial showdown between Whitey and his potential victims takes place at the adulterous couple's love nest, a New Hampshire cottage that quickly becomes a house of horrors when Whitey suspects Roger of double-crossing him, and runs amok on a killing spree that eventually leads back to Boston. Abrahams does his best work in a series of well-crafted early scenes that effectively convey the different levels of emotional duplicity among the protagonists, but the actual murders are strictly formulaic. While Francie, Ned and Anne are well-drawn, Abrahams's portrayals of both Roger and his minion lack dimension; they are both plot devices whose ludicrous partnership never carries the ring of credibility. Even so, as he explores Francie's emotional terrain in the wake of tragedy, Abrahams will keep readers very much engaged. Agent, Molly Friedrich; 100,000 first printing.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This story has too many coincidences that tempted me to stop reading the book.
Angel L. Soto
Others have noted the writer's beautifully crafted prose, exquisitely drawn characterizations, brilliantly rendered sequences, wonderful ear for dialogue.
mayday
It is true that there are some scenes which are a bit too coincidental, but in this case I didn't even care.
jazzgirl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on August 25, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What makes this book so readable is its pervasive and sly sense of humor. The author doesn't take himself too seriously and writes hilarious scenes with Roger, Francis' stuffy Harvard husband who spends the day locked up in his basement competing with other high IQ crossword puzzle nerds and writing "IQ 181" on his resume. The interior monologues that cover Roger's thoughts as he plots the perfect murder of his adulterous wife are hilarious. The other character who gets a good dose of the humor is the lovable villain, Whitney (Donald!) who is a total nutcase, convicted murderer and very caught up in his own proficiency level. Exactly when he thinks he's humming along doing something brilliant, we see that he's drinking too much and wandering far from his simple mission to kill Francis.
Some have criticized the coincidences and gimmicks, but I really didn't find them intrusive at all. I think that kind of critique misses the point that the author is creating a somewhat absurd set of circumstances to highlight some of the plotting and conventions of detective stories. For sure, his style is engaging and his characters very well drawn. This book was enjoyable from start to finish and a pageturner to boot.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The quality of the writing grabs you on the first page. Characters are drawn with deft accuracy and keen insight. The plot is beautifully developed. It's suspenseful but not in a predictable way: you see what's coming, but trust me: you're still surprised. The grace with which Abrahams accomplishes what seems to be effortlessly unfolding left me thoroughly impressed. The author does not resort to cheap tactics, no easy outs: it's just solid writing. This guy is now near the top of my list of all-time favorite authors. My only question is, why isn't he more acclaimed? If you thought Grisham was good, this makes him pale in comparison. If you think Grisham is mediocre, RUN to your keyboard and order this book, and you can thank me later.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By mayday on November 15, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Others have noted the writer's beautifully crafted prose, exquisitely drawn characterizations, brilliantly rendered sequences, wonderful ear for dialogue. Peter Abrahams may specialize in genre fiction, but he's as gifted an artist and as textured a stylist as any writer of mainline, literary fiction.
A Perfect Crime focuses on the violent consequences of deceiving oneself and misleading others in the context of an adulterous affair. America's premier, fictional adulteress, Hester Prynne, wore the Scarlet Letter openly, and it became the symbol of her redemption. Dimmesdale's scarlet letter, invisible to the eye, burned through his breast and became the fatal emblem of his sin. Francie's scarlet letter is the voice of a conscience that she barely hears and rarely heeds, an echo that whispers of loyalty and friendship in the world of wealth and social status into whose selfish and shallow sophistication she's been successfully acculturated.
Mired in a loveless marriage, for whose failure she bears an equal responsiblity, Francie begins an affair with Ned whom she imagines she loves but who serves as her means of gratifying her unfulfilled sexual needs even as Ned uses Francie to gratify his own desire for a classy and erotically passionate woman whose attentions flatter his ego, Ned having tired of Anne, his somewhat drab, unassertive wife.
When their pas de deux begins to wear thin, Francie tries to bail out of the relationship, persuading herself that she's doing so out of concern for Anne with whom, by chance, she's become acquainted.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jazzgirl on April 15, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first book I have read by this author and it will not be the last as I really enjoyed this book. It is true that there are some scenes which are a bit too coincidental, but in this case I didn't even care. Perhaps I would have in the hands of a lesser writer, but I found Abrahams' writing style to be top notch.

It is the story of the affair between Francie and Ned who are both married to other people. Everything gets more and more complicated as their lives become entwined. Deception, jealousy, madness and murder...this one has it all!!

If you are looking for a well-written entertaining thriller,and are not too picky about everything being 100% realistic (it is fiction, after all!) look no further!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Darren Jacks on August 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a perfect novel about cheaters and what happens when they are found out, but with a twist of an ending.
Easily readable with a smooth plot, likeable characters, and a snappy little moral tale about what happens when we betray the one we love.
A perfect summer-time read on the beach, in the house, or out loud at the bridge club meeting!!!
Two thumbs way way up!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John R. Lindermuth VINE VOICE on August 7, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"A Perfect Crime" is not a perfect book. That said, it is still worth the read. Interesting characters, a plot that twists and turns. All in all, a thriller that will keep you turning the pages.

As Robbie Burns pointed out so long out, life has a way of throwing a monkey wrench in the best laid plans of man. The planner in this case is one Roger Cullingwood, a self-proclaimed genius seen by others as a weird loser. When Roger discovers his wife is having an affair, he decides to reward her betrayal with death.

Francie, the wife, seems a little too smart to have fallen so hard for the smooth-talking Ned Demarco, a radio psychologist, who declines leaving his wife for fear of hurting his young daughter. Altruistically, Francie agrees to once a week trysts at a friend's isolated cabin, optimistically holding on to the belief her lover will leave his wife for her once the daughter is old enough.

A minister friend insists there is no such thing as a coincidence. Perhaps he doesn't read as much fiction as me. There are a lot of coincidences in this tale, though I suspect Abrahams may be pulling our chains to a certain extent. This is, after all, fiction, and they didn't detract from the overall impact of the novel.

When Francie learns her new tennis partner is Demarco's wife she is plagued by guilt and decides to end the affair, a plan that is derailed time and again while she builds her courage.

Meanwhile, Roger has found a demented killer who he attempts to use as a pawn in his murderous plot. Whitey, the killer, isn't quite as dumb as Roger thinks he is and there are some amusing encounters between the two. For good measure, Abrahams throws in a rural police chief whose wife was Whitey's first victim.

This was only the second Abrahams I've read. I liked it more than the first and I'm going to have to check out some of his other books.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Peter Abrahams - "criminally gifted" according to the New York Times Book Review - is the author of 27 novels. These include the New York Times bestselling Echo Falls mystery series for middle-graders (DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE, BEHIND THE CURTAIN, INTO THE DARK) and REALITY CHECK (2009) for teens. Among his adult books are OBLIVION (Shamus prize finalist), THE FAN (made into a movie with Robert DeNiro) and LIGHTS OUT (Edgar award finalist). DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE was a finalist for the Edgar best young adult mystery award and won the Agatha in the same category. BEHIND THE CURTAIN and INTO THE DARK were Agatha finalists. In her Cleveland Plain Dealer review of NERVE DAMAGE (2007), Michelle Ross wrote: "I swear, if one more literary person says in that oh-so-condescendng tone, 'Oh, I don't read ... mysteries,' I'm going to take a novel by Peter Abrahams and smack him on his smug little head." REALITY CHECK won the best young adult mystery Edgar award in 2010. ROBBIE FORESTER AND THE OUTLAWS OF SHERWOOD STREET, January 2012, is first in a new middle-grade series about a twelve-year-old Robin Hood in contemporary Brooklyn.
As Spencer Quinn, Abrahams also writes the New York Times bestselling Chet and Bernie mystery series: DOG ON it, THEREBY HANGS A TAIL, TO FETCH A THIEF, and THE DOG WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. He has a website - peterabrahams.com; and so does Chet - chetthedog.com.

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