Picks and Pans Review: After

updated 06/07/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/07/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Claire Tristram

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Tristram picks a formidable topic for her first book—a revenge fantasy played out in a single day in the life of an American woman whose husband was killed by Muslim extremists. As the anniversary of her loss approaches, the heroine (never named) decides to take a Muslim lover—choosing a married man painfully aware of his outsider status in America. She is both attracted to and repulsed by Changiz, and her agenda is unclear until the end of their assignation. As the suspense builds, the author neatly switches from the widow's perspective to her lover's—bringing in touches like his recognizing her from news stories and scoffing at a rehearsed line about how she endures with the help of Zoloft. ("Don't treat me like I'm your audience," he says.) Still, the fact that Tristram leaves the widow nameless feels manipulative; ultimately, Changiz's life is more sharply drawn than hers, and it makes his take on the ironies of their liaison more compelling.

NOVEL

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