If you're looking for paranoid personality disorder and murder, together with mild sexual perversion, corruption of a minor and parental sadism -- this psychological thriller's got it.
The main character was just a sensitive soul who wanted marital happiness and the ability to express her musical talent. Regrettably, she fell victim to characters who caused or worsened a few problems with their betrayals, vulgarity or violence. Her doctor wasn't much help, he failed to grasp the root of the problem and advised her not to fear change -- ironic advice, given developments. The contrast between the novel's start and ending was powerful.
The story was mainly in the form of a puzzle and, for me, didn't capture pure violent menace like, say, Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me. On the other hand, Bardin was especially good at describing mental disorder and sexual excitement using shifts in time and location, with analogies of light, movement and sound:
"As she looked at her own face in the glass, it began to darken, to pulsate and widen. And in the distance on the edge of her hearing, an orchestra sounded, wild, discordant, yet syncopated . . . . She leaned forward to see her own face more plainly; but the closer she came to the quickly blackening glass, the fainter and more indistinct her own image became. Then, while she watched, the mirror seemed to dissolve, to lap away as tide recedes from a moonlit beach, revealing a depth, an emptiness, a greatly enlarged interior. Before she was wholly aware of what was happening, this huge area seemed to move forward, to surround her and enclose her -- and she found herself seated at a table in the midst of a darkened ballroom, her eyes fixed on a point in space not far from her where a spotlight stroked a silver circle on the floor . . . . Yet she did not feel uncomfortable, or even alienated -- her body trembled with eagerness, and the coaxing beat of the music that had ended only a moment before was now replaced with an expectancy, an urgent desire to experience what was about to occur . . . .
"Slowly the strange sensation grew stronger, gradually it took possession of her, became a part of her that was essential to her being; it was a sensation of freedom, of disassociation -- she floated high above all earthly connexions and gloried in her ascension . . . . She kept her eyes closed, fearing to open them, while she felt herself become lighter and lighter until it seemed she had no weight, no substance, had changed into an essence, an abstraction . . . . she had become majestic sound, a rolling, evanescent structure that billowed and cavorted . . . .She was tone and melody and rhythmic beat, she was harmony and colour . . . . And, as the fanfare rocketed to its climax, she lost her footing among the clouds, the moon was eclipsed and the clouds turned into black spirits that hastened to smother her. Down, down, down she plunged, oppressed as she felt weight and substance return, drawn to the lodestone earth with dizzying velocity."
Caught up in the rush, one could overlook minor problems: one character in the story appeared to die twice and another was unable to find a location in NYC she'd already visited.