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Published in the Netherlands in 1984, this devastating exercise in psychological horror was the basis for an acclaimed Dutch film and a recent American remake that may have prompted the novel's long-overdue publication in English. Veteran Dutch author Krabbe works with an economy that only reinforces the terror inspired by his scarifying tale. En route from Holland to a vacation in the South of France, freelance writer Rex Hofman and his girlfriend Saskia Ehlvest bicker, make up and stop at a gas station, where Saskia goes to get soft drinks and never returns. Eight years later, Rex is engaged to be married, though he still feels helpless and desolated and remains obsessed with the disappearance. Almost halfway through the book, Krabbe introduces Frenchman Raymond Lemorne, a married high school teacher whose attempts to abduct a young woman are shown but not explained. Responding to ads placed by Rex in French newspapers, Lemorne first writes and then visits the bereaved man, using Rex's by-now-crazed curiosity to lure him to France. The decidedly unhappy ending makes use of a shocking twist. The portrait of Lemorne, who shoots two teenage campers to death then calmly resumes his role as an indulgent paterfamilias, is a chilling study of the banality of evil. This deceptively simple novel packs a wallop that will send readers reeling. Author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to theHardcoveredition.
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review by . May 06, 2013
A tautly crafted novel that is prosaically sharp and horrifically evocative.
Near Dijon, France, Rex Hofman and Saskia Ehlvest-his love interest-are heading to a hotel in Nuits-St. Georges in Burgundy; they are on vacation. After a brief spat while on the road, they pull into a gas station called TOTAL and make up. Saskia plans to drive the second leg of their trip, but before she does so, she needs to do a bathroom and drink break. Affectionally, she wants to buy a soda for herself and a beer for Rex, the latter being a researcher and journalist whose speciality seems …
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