Blood Mask: A Novel of Suspense

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9780061119040: Blood Mask: A Novel of Suspense

Awealthy, charismatic, and controversial "benefactress of art," Drewe Hildebrand disappears from her estate on the Hudson River, seemingly abducted in the night. Her young niece, Marta, found in a desolate wooded area close by, is too traumatized to describe the abductors. A provocative exhibit of avant-garde "bio-art" that includes a blood mask of Drewe Hildebrand is disrupted by protestors.

In this, her third suspense novel, Lauren Kelly explores the startling world of "bio-artists" and their admirers, examining the intermingling of private, inscrutable motives with public masks of dominance and power; the ways in which spiritual yearnings may be transformed into worldly, erotic appetites that consume the innocent.

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About the Author:

Lauren Kelly is one pseudonym of Joyce Carol Oates, a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. Oates's most recent novel, The Falls, was a New York Times Notable Book, a Washington Post Best Book of 2004, and a Chicago Tribune Top Ten Book of 2004. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. In 2003 she was a recipient of the Commonwealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature. In 2005 she was awarded France's Prix Femina for The Falls.

From Booklist:

Presumably, Joyce Carol Oates uses pseudonyms to distinguish her suspense novels from her literary works, although her identity is always revealed when she writes as Rosamond Smith or Lauren Kelly. And while this is designated as a novel of suspense, it is an archetypal Oatesian tale narrated by a lonely and depressed young woman of straitened circumstances and hidden strengths uncomfortable with her sexuality and enthralled by an unsavory mentor. Drewe Hildebrand--chic, wealthy, and reckless--runs an artists' colony not far from the old Hudson River town of Newburgh that impresses New York City sophisticates and scandalizes the conservative locals. Drewe has taken charge of her destitute niece, Annemarie, renaming her Marta and attempting to transform this shy and balky teen into a sexy sidekick, seemingly with deviant intent. Certainly, there is menace in the air when Drewe takes up with a sculptor who creates such ghoulish works as a bust of Drewe covered in her own blood. After a near-riot breaks out at the opening of an exhibit of his grotesque creations, Drewe disappears and Marta is beaten and forced to consume a nearly lethal dose of crystal meth. Ultimately, the suspense is more intellectual than visceral in this fleet-footed, culturally astute, and teasingly ambiguous tale about sexual power, women and body image, class divisions, contemporary art and the rejection of beauty, and the nexus of the sacred and the profane. Oates by any other name is still Oates: smart, canny, haunted, and compelling. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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