Vanessa V. Friedman
February 06, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

Black and Blue

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
Ian Rankin, Anna Quindlen

We gave it a B

In Black and Blue, her third fictional effort, Quindlen evinces all the earnestness that used to mark her twice-weekly New York Times column. Frances, a young mother from Brooklyn, flees her abusive husband, changing her name to Beth and trading New York for Florida, family and friends for freedom from pain, and a nice home for a cramped apartment. But Frances/Beth is a character strangely lacking in substance, and this creates a vacuum at the center of the book. When the predictable happens and the husband finds her, it’s hard to feel anything more about the resulting violence than you might feel about a similar story on the nightly news: It’s a distressing tale, but it doesn’t get you in the gut. B

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