Gary Devon’s Bad Desire is a psychological thriller about a rich guy’s mid- life crisis. Henry Slater, the mayor of a California town, has been cheating with a high-school cheerleader named Sheila Bonner. Henry is obsessed with the girl, and he commits murder and mayhem to be with her. Slater is so hateful that one would root for the ”good guys” except that they’re such TV- movie cutouts. There’s a ”brilliant” detective given to such ruminations as, ”It’s my ass that’s on the line; I’ll get the bastard who killed Rachel Buchanan.” There’s Henry’s long-suffering wife — named Faith, of course. Faith knows Henry is stepping out and suspects he’s killed an elderly woman, but she tells herself, ”I’m in love with him. I’ve got to stop dwelling on this.” Devon’s writing is seamless, and despite his coarse characterizations, he can have a good, ironic touch. The ending is a case in point — unfortunately, readers are likely to change the channel halfway there. B-

Bad Desire
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