S. Tia Brown
May 30, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In eight novels, Dickey has developed a knack for creating characters who elicit both rage and sympathy. Woman is true to form. The nameless narrator, a routine-bound suburban Californian, learns of her husband’s philandering ways. Then scores of traumatizing back stories spill out (abortion, rape, and abandonment). But this dame is no hapless victim of infidelity: She takes charge, first by using her training as a TV journalist to interrogate her hubby. (His reply is tellingly obtuse: ”Would I leave you? No…. You are the love of my life.”) Ultimately, she is motivated to seek revenge — but not before Dickey taps the intimate emotions of a woman whose hurt we feel viscerally.

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