Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts
By Laura Benedict
(Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345497697, 336pp.)
Publication Date: December 30, 2008
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Three childhood friends. A malicious lie. One hell of a consequence.
Growing up, Roxanne, Del, and Alice tested the limits of their friendship with cruel, and often dangerous, games–but they always knew they would be bound together forever. Now, Alice’s marriage is over, and her husband is having a child with another woman. Roxanne, an artist consumed by her work, is losing touch with her friends–and perhaps with reality. And Del is desperate to be a perfect wife and adoring stepmother, but her friends see that her careful façade is crumbling.
The instrument of their destruction is a single enigmatic man–Varick. He seems to be a lonely woman’s dream come true, but where has he come from? And what does he want? As he seduces the women in turn, their lives become unrecognizable to them. Varick’s secret lies buried in their shared past. One simple, childish act has brought them, all these years later, to a place where not only their lives but also their souls are at risk. For once upon a time, the three of them agreed to tell a lie–one that ruined the life of a young priest. Defrocked, destitute, and ruined, he hoped with the whole of his shattered heart that he would get revenge. And in that hope he shook hands with the one who promised it. The devil himself. Now they all must live with the consequences.
Dark and provocative, Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts will keep readers in its terrifying grip long after the final, chilling page is turned.
Laura Benedict is the author of Isabella Moon. Her short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and a number of anthologies. For the past decade she has worded as a freelance book reviewer for the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan and other newspapers. She lives in Southern Illinois with her husband, Pinckney Benedict, and their two children.
Advance praise for Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts
“Laura Benedict paints a vibrant picture of lives haunted by the past–where sins of the spirit meet sins of the flesh and no character is left unscathed.”
–Jonathan Santlofer, author of The Death Artist and Anatomy of Fear
“A lush, intelligent novel that elevates the typical horror story into a fascinating and often diabolical character study that enthralls even as it terrifies. This is a beautiful, spine-tingling thriller of revenge, secrets, and simmering childhood resentments with otherworldly surprises around every corner. Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts is one of the best books I’ve read in years.”
–Amanda Stevens, author of The Dollmaker and The Devil’s Footprints
“Deliciously malevolent–Benedict’s writing is like a beautiful, poisonous flower.”
–Alexandra Sokoloff, author of The Harrowing and The Price