Lizzie is a translator, of Czech to English. Her relationship of seven years has ended and she is a few months into the single life and celibacy. At times, her large London terrace seems an empty place, animated only by the presence of her cat, Millie. But Millie has made the house vulnerable to the predations of a prowling tomcat which has learned to use the cat flap to enter, rob the food bowl, and dole out a few wounds in the process.
Lizzie's friends worry about her. She reassures them, and herself, that everything is fine. She has a new contract, to translate a European bestseller for the English-speaking ... and Hollywood ... market. It's a tale of cops and robbers, a high body count, and explicit sex, and it will keep her too busy to fret about her own life, loneliness, and celibacy.
Is it her imagination? One of her albums is missing. When the second disappears, she suspects her ex is playing tricks. But the third incident with the CD's shakes Lizzie's confidence. Someone, or something other than the tomcat, is getting into the house.
Sarah Dunant writes a very sophisticated, very elegant thriller. Juxtaposing the violence of excerpts from Lizzie's translation with the psychological chill of her own fears and realisation of what is happening, this is a first class novel.
Dunant is a very fine writer. She dissects the sexual mores and sexual desires of her characters with a skill and sensitivity few other novelists manage. Lizzie is no passive victim. She is a literate, intelligent young woman who opts to fight whatever it is that has determined to invade her world. In places disturbing, even shocking, certainly explicit, Dunant delivers some fascinating insights into her characters.
This is a tense, well-paced novel which obliges you to keep turning the pages. Exceptionally well written and beautifully structured, Dunant's writing style is dynamic and economical, each word, each phrase, each sentence delivered with poise and purpose.
This is the first Sarah Dunant novel I've read ... I'll certainly read more. First class writing, compulsive story-telling, and an author with class, style, and personality.