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Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts

Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts

3.2 10
by Laura Benedict

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Three childhood friends. A malicious lie. One hell of a consequence.

Growing up, Roxanne, Del, and Alice tested the limits of their friendship with cruel, and often dangerous, games–but they always knew they would be bound together forever. Now, Alice’s marriage is over, and her husband is having a child with another woman. Roxanne, an artist


Three childhood friends. A malicious lie. One hell of a consequence.

Growing up, Roxanne, Del, and Alice tested the limits of their friendship with cruel, and often dangerous, games–but they always knew they would be bound together forever. Now, Alice’s marriage is over, and her husband is having a child with another woman. Roxanne, an artist consumed by her work, is losing touch with her friends–and perhaps with reality. And Del is desperate to be a perfect wife and adoring stepmother, but her friends see that her careful façade is crumbling.

The instrument of their destruction is a single enigmatic man–Varick. He seems to be a lonely woman’s dream come true, but where has he come from? And what does he want? As he seduces the women in turn, their lives become unrecognizable to them. Varick’s secret lies buried in their shared past. One simple, childish act has brought them, all these years later, to a place where not only their lives but also their souls are at risk. For once upon a time, the three of them agreed to tell a lie–one that ruined the life of a young priest. Defrocked, destitute, and ruined, he hoped with the whole of his shattered heart that he would get revenge. And in that hope he shook hands with the one who promised it. The devil himself. Now they all must live with the consequences.

Dark and provocative, Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts will keep readers in its terrifying grip long after the final, chilling page is turned.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

When three women, friends since their tumultuous youth, find their lives unraveling, they are assisted by a mysterious stranger who arrives in their respective lives at just the right time. But who is he, where did he come from, and what exactly are his intentions? Emily Durante delivers a solid reading that features three separate and well-defined female performances that lend a realistic underpinning to an otherwise otherworldly story. Durante's only flaw is that as good as the three protagonists are, her renditions of supporting characters are at times clichéd and obvious. A Ballantine hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 27). (Jan.)

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Laura Benedict’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and a number of anthologies. For the past decade she has worked as a freelance book reviewer for The Grand Rapids Press in Michigan and other newspapers. She lives in southern Illinois with her husband, Pinckney Benedict, and their two children. Isabella Moon is her first novel.

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Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
denverbroncosgirl More than 1 year ago
I almost stopped reading this book several times. It was very difficult to stay with. Very slow in parts. I will say that the story is original & the characters are well developed. The whole thing was entirely too dark for me & the ending (actually much of the book) was incredibly DEPRESSING!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a difficult time getting through this book. The main characters were extremely difficult to identify with. In the beginning, Alice is portrayed as a young girl taken advantage of by friends. Then suddenly as an adult (and also as a young girl later in the story) she is portrayed as extremely needy and manipulative, with no reason provided for her behavior. The book jacket tells us Del's friends see her facade crumbling, but she seems perfectly normal until she suddenly goes to a hotel room with a strange (devil?) man and throws herself out a window. Roxanne's motivations are constantly impossible to understand. The author suddenly throws her and Del's widowed husband into a potential romance with no build up or explanation. Her strange dinner encounter with Varick makes no sense, with the bird attack on her (forgotten???) afterwards. Romero has not created any new life for himself since being driven from the priesthood. Varick is never explained, and he simply disappears at the end. Additionally, every chapter title is written with a buildup to the baby Amber is expecting, so one is expecting the baby to have some unusual aspect or power--but nothing. This book would have been better if the author had chosen one or two strange subjects and just built on them. It is simply too busy with the end result a complete lack of cohesiveness. A very disappointing read.
emmi331 More than 1 year ago
A lie told by three 13-year olds comes back to haunt them - with deadly results - many years later. Roxanne, Del, and Alice ruin a young priest's reputation and career in an act of betrayal and deception. Filled with resentment and rage, the priest vows revenge - and receives assistance from the source of evil itself. As adults, the three women find their lives thrown into chaos and death after meeting a mysterious and handsome stranger named Varick. Much darker than the author's novel Isabella Moon, this book is hard to put down. Beautifully written and spellbinding.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In Cincinnati, thirteen year old Roxanne, Delilah and Alice perform a love ritual that is a combination of witchcraft and Santeria. Shortly after completing their spell, a new teacher arrives at their school, Our Lady of the Hills. The three assume he is heavenly sent to take their virginity.

The girls compete to seduce the Cuban-born teacher Father Romero. Roxanne succeeds, but Alice and Del fail because Father Romero is wracked with guilt after his fall from grace. Still the two he rejected accuse him of unsavory behavior; costing him his teaching position as well as defrocking him. He leaves Ohio humiliated.

Seventeen years later, Romero, accompanied by Varick, returns to Cincinnati seeking vengeance on the unholy trio who destroyed him as a Father and as a man. At the encouragement of his companion, who is the devil garbed as a man, Romero begins his quest against the thirty years old former Lolita like trio who seduced him and lied to the church about his transgressions. As the quintet get entangled with one another, the innocent are in trouble as Varick wants to burn more than just four sinners.

This is not an easy book to read as no one is an empathetic character and having young teens as sexy seductresses is difficult to accept. Still the action is fast-paced and the four humans real as their flaws overflow, which enables the devil to expedite his punishment. Targeting a limited audience, fans who enjoy an extremely dark Faustian thriller will want to read CALLING MR. LONELY HEARTS.

Harriet Klausner
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Some youthful pranks are easily forgiven and forgotten. That was not the case with three friends from childhood, Roxanne, Del and Alice. It no longer becomes a prank when another person's life is unalterably changed, ruined. As adults the girls may well have forgotten the lie they once told but Father Romero cannot ever forget or forgive. Relating her story between past and present Benedict introduces the trio who are always up for tricks and sometimes cruelty. When young, handsome Father Romero comes to their school, Our Lady of the Hills, he quickly becomes the object of their next escapade, an evil deception. Goaded by Roxanne they tell such a vicious lie about Romero that he is defrocked. Fast forward to the trio as adults. It's amazing how little some personalities change with supposed maturity. Roxanne, now an artist, is still the leader, often overbearing and manipulative. Alice is married, not at all happily. She cannot have children, and her husband is involved with another woman. Del is happily married to Jock, and the mother of a daughter, Wendy. However, the once grounded Del seems to be losing touch with reality. Varick, a mysterious stranger, has entered their lives and is destroying each of the women. Where did he come from, why and how is he doing this? Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts is a noir tale, a blend of suspense and the supernatural given a splendid reading by Emily Durante who easily voices the women as teenagers and as adults. The narrator's voice inflections carry the listener from daylight to dark as the story progresses. - Gail Cooke