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.