Monday, October 30, 2017

Book Review: Thrill

Book Review: 'Thrill' by Barbara Petty
3 / 5 Stars

‘Thrill’ (240 pp) was published by Dell books in April 1977; the cover artist is uncredited.

The novel is set in Manhattan, ca. 1977. Katherine Fielding and Sandra Jurgenson are both in their late twenties, roommates, and co-workers at a magazine publisher. Katherine, who has the looks of a fashion model and an aristocratic background, is high-strung and prone to neuroses, while Sandra, who hails from the Midwest, is a down-to- earth ‘girl next door’.

After a difficult day at work, the girls decide to unwind by visiting a neighborhood bar called Ziggy’s. After deterring the usual lounge lizards, the girls decide to go home with a handsome bachelor named Ted Hanley. Once at Ted’s swank apartment (all the décor is in Earth Tones, natch) things take a turn for the worse – much worse – and the night ends in shock and horror.

As Katherine and Sandra try to cope with the aftermath of the night at Teds, the dynamic between them begins to change. No longer is Sandra the naïve New York City newcomer who serves as a dowdy complement to the striking Katherine. Now it is Sandra who makes the decisions and gives the orders to an increasingly fragile Katherine. And for Sandra, living on the edge is starting to take on a special allure…………

I found reading ‘Thrill’ to be a mixed reward. It certainly is effective in leveraging the social and workplace mores of the 70s, when harassment and sexist behavior by supervisors was part and parcel of the workplace and married men were quite comfortable with hitting on the female help. 

Indeed, early on, the narrative leads the reader to believe that ‘Thrill’ is a novel about women exacting revenge on Male Chauvinist Pigs; a sort of Feminist reversal of Looking for Mr. Goodbar. But unfortunately, the novel moves aside from that direction and becomes a psychodrama that focuses on excavating buried emotional traumas.

Summing up, ‘Thrill’ is a quick read and offers an accurate, even nostalgic, portrait of New York City in the late 70s (complete with an elegant luncheon in the top floor of the World Trade Center). At times it succeeds as a psychological thriller. But when all is said and done it suffers from being too conventional, and represents a missed opportunity to do something offbeat and imaginative in the genre.

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