After reading a few very positive reviews of this book, I was intrigued enough to seek it out for myself. Eli Gotliebb is a new name to me, but it seems that his work has been lauded by many, and I have to agree that this was a book that was hard to put down. The expertly crafted language was not only evocative and rich, but the story that Gotliebb told wiggled its way into my brain where it burrowed and squirmed, full of portent and and suspense. It was an uncomfortable book to read, but it was alarmingly powerful and urgent as well.
Gotliebb doesn’t waste a lot of time trying to seduce his readers into falling in love with Margot. It’s clear from the outset that she is one bad egg and that her desire to come out on top will propel her into abuse of privilege, exotic acts of manipulation and wild treacheries that know no bounds. At first, I was skeptical of Margot’s situation, as she seemed so reduced and powerless, but like a snake in the grass, it was only her attempts to gather herself before the final strike. Gotliebb does an amazing job of making everything about Margot and her past murky and shadowed, and as he doles out the information, slowly but surely I began to see what a tremendous force this woman actually was. Her ability to feed off of the emotions of others and compose herself into whatever they wished her to be was stunning and more than a little scary.
When Margot gets involved with Lawrence, her motives seem to be those of a student sitting at the feet of a master, but this isn’t all Margot wants. She is incapable of letting anyone walk away from her undamaged, and in Lawrence’s struggle with his powerful attraction to Margot, he unwillingly lets out his inner demons who not only torment him but take him hostage into a dark vortex of self deception and regret. Though Lawrence has traveled this road before, he cannot admit to anyone the power that Margot holds over him, and in her grip, he becomes a man devoid of self-control and perspective. Margot holds the keys to Lawrence’s destruction, and in her eyes, Lawrence sees reflections of the man he used to be, reflections that disturb and anger him into shame.
Margot has been playing games with everyone, it seems, for she has also swindled John Potash, a man who is living a dream of self sufficiency and wealth beyond his wildest imaginings. When Margot gets her hooks into John, she squeezes mightily and leaves him broken and spent, in more ways than one. But Potash isn’t about to give up and let Margot win. In an effort to replenish his fortune and get revenge on Margot, he becomes willing to compromise himself in a myriad of ways. His feelings of overwhelming anger and bitterness at Margot are bolstered by a nefarious plan that shapes the future destruction of not only his savings but his family as well. In these three intertwining stories of Margot’s various deceptions, Gotliebb ensnares his readers with sinewy narrative strength and reveals flashes of expertly crafted suspense. Dark desires and their swift repercussions race each other throughout this novel, and in its conclusion, readers will find themselves chilled and justifiably ensnared.
This book was brilliant in its intensity and power, and I dare say that anyone who reads this story will come away with feelings of an intense measure. If you’re looking for a suspense novel that is unique yet powerfully captivating and thrilling, you need look no further. An unquestionable success in the genre and a very dark look at the power of perception versus reality. Highly recommended.