This multilayered novel involving abuse, corruption and mayhem follows a sexually abused boy who becomes a dangerous man, luring a naive young woman into his web of deceit.
The book introduces the main characters in 1985. Georges, who becomes an orphan at a young age, falls under the care of his unscrupulous uncle, who sells him for sex by the hour to seedy men in Algiers. A wealthy French artist named Pierre takes a liking to Georges and decides to purchase and then adopt him. While Georges is well taken care of financially, the deviant sexual relationship continues with Pierre, warping his upbringing.
Serena is just eight when financial woes lead her father to commit suicide. Her mother soon weds the wealthy, powerful and devious Englishman with whom she had been having an affair. Twenty years later, Georges and an insecure Serena have a chance meeting. Serena is drawn to his good looks and charm, failing to recognize Georges’ sociopathic underpinnings, which lead to evil underhandedness and murders and threaten to destroy Serena.
A.D. Fitzgerald has written a cleanly edited book with an inventive and detailed plot. However, while it has good pacing and actions that warrant tension, its downfall is in its characters. Though well-described, they lack the captivating qualities that would elicit feelings of compassion for them. For example, Serena becomes annoying for her cluelessness about Georges’ obvious character flaws. Several other supporting characters are excessively devious and mean-spirited. While the book’s climax provides interest with an unexpected twist, the ending falls flat as the story drops off abruptly.
Overall, while the book may draw interest from readers who enjoy villainous characters and a look behind the curtain at the underworld of malicious people, it will lose others because of its dearth of appealing characters and its flat finish.