A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion (Hardcover)

A Novel

By Ron Hansen

Scribner, 9781451617559, 272pp.

Publication Date: June 14, 2011

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (7/10/2012)

List Price: 25.00*
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From the acclaimed author of Atticus and Mariette in Ecstasy comes a stylish novel set in the hard-drinking, fast-living New York City of the Jazz Age that follows two lovers in a torrid affair on an arc of murder and sexual self-destruction.

Based on a real case whose lurid details scandalized Americans in 1927 and sold millions of newspapers, acclaimed novelist Ron Hansen’s latest work is a tour de force of erotic tension and looming violence. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Ruth Snyder is a voluptuous, reckless, and altogether irresistible woman who wishes not only to escape her husband but that he die—and the sooner the better. No less miserable in his own tedious marriage is Judd Gray, a dapper corset-and-brassiere salesman who travels the Northeast peddling his wares. He meets Ruth in a Manhattan diner, and soon they are conducting a white-hot affair involving hotel rooms, secret letters, clandestine travels, and above all, Ruth’s increasing insistence that Judd kill her husband. Could he do it? Would he? What follows is a thrilling exposition of a murder plan, a police investigation, the lovers’ attempt to escape prosecution, and a final reckoning for both of them that lays bare the horror and sorrow of what they have done. Dazzlingly well-written and artfully constructed, this impossible-to-put-down story marks the return of an American master known for his elegant and vivid novels that cut cleanly to the essence of the human heart, always and at once mysterious and filled with desire.

About the Author

Ron Hansen is the author of ten novels—including The Kid, Mariette in Ecstasy, Desperadoes, and A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion—and two short story collections, among them She Loves Me Not. His novel The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. He graduated from Creighton University in Omaha and went on to the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop where he studied with John Irving. He is now Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., Professor in Arts and Humanities at Santa Clara University in northern California.

Praise For A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion: A Novel

"Once again, Ron Hansen has proved that he has no peer in the writing of fiction about biographical characters. No one writing today is better at re-creating the past than Hansen, and no one gives better insight into his characters. In this instance, Ron Hansen re-creates the Roaring Twenties with a sense of immediacy and authenticity that I haven't seen since the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald and John O'Hara. James M. Cain once said that the greatest of human tragedies usually takes place when people get what they want. That's the story we find in A WILD SURGE OF GUILTY PASSION. Could this happen to us, we ask ourselves. The question is a haunting one. Ron Hansen takes us into the heart of America, and the journey never allows us to stop turning the page." —James Lee Burke

A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion is by turns blackly comic, irresistibly seductive, and implacably devastating. As a tour of the Seven Deadly Sins, it’s pretty much unsurpassed in recent literature.”

—Jim Shepard, whose most recent story collection is You Think That's Bad