David Kelsey has an invincible conviction that life is going to work out just as he has planned it - if he can just fix 'the situation'.
His one true love, the brilliant, beautiful Annabelle, has married another man. But that doesn't mean they can't still be friends. And even though she is pregnant with her husband Gerald's baby, that surely doesn't mean she won't one day get back together with David. She still loves him, of that he is certain.
David is sure she'll take him back and, under an alias, is setting up a wonderful home for the two of them in a town close by. And everything is just about going to plan until things take a murderous turn, leaving David a desperate man on the run.
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The Talented Miss Highsmith
Patricia Highsmith, according to many, was a terrifying and unpredictable person to be around - drunk or sober. Perhaps her understanding of what it is to inflict cruelty on people (and how easy it is to get away with it when so few people expect it, so many are prepared to make excuses for it and explain it away) are what enable her to write so convincingly on the subject. David Kelsey, the protagonist (by no stretch of the imagination can he be called the hero) inflicts suffering and harm to a greater or lesser extent on most of the people with whom he comes into contact. It might be through the sickening realisation that they have been lied to for years by someone they genuinely liked and trusted - the kind of realisation that can permanently damage your ability to trust and relate to others. On the other hand, this book is really concerned about the damage he does, of a far more serious nature, when he goes completely off the rails. The true extent of his self-centred, chaotic and delusional agenda becomes horrifyingly apparent. More and more people are drawn into dealing with the fall out of his obsession with a woman he has decided belongs to him. As a coda: this book contains one of the funniest lines in literature, towards the end: surely the most unexpected and apposite reference to the Holy Grail.