In Malice, Quite Close: A Novel

In Malice, Quite Close: A Novel

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by Brandi Lynn Ryder

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A sophisticated mystery debut in which priceless art and unspeakable desires converge

When French expatriate Tristan Mourault becomes enamored with fifteen-year-old Karen Miller, he "rescues" her from her working-class circumstances and stages her death to mask his true crime. Years later, Karen is now "Gisèle" and lives with


A sophisticated mystery debut in which priceless art and unspeakable desires converge

When French expatriate Tristan Mourault becomes enamored with fifteen-year-old Karen Miller, he "rescues" her from her working-class circumstances and stages her death to mask his true crime. Years later, Karen is now "Gisèle" and lives with Tristan in rarefied Devon, Washington. She has married another man to keep up appearances, but when her daughter stumbles upon a secret cache of paintings—all nudes of Gisèle—Tristan's carefully curated world begins to crumble. Set against a byzantine backdrop of greed, artifice, and manipulation—with tantalizing echoes of LolitaIn Malice, Quite Close keeps its most devastating secrets right up until the very last page.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Growing up, my heroes were all madmen of a sort. Madness, my mother said, defined great men, just as fear defined weak ones. It seemed wise to adopt her opinion. My ancestors range from the visionary to the criminal and I am named for a good many of them. (Tristan Leandre Jourdain Mourault III.) My surname is a dignified one in my native land, translating roughly to ‘little dark.’ I’ve always thought of this as dusk, just before night and beyond the normalcy of day. It is where we have always existed.

My obsession with beauty began in infancy. I was mesmerized by pictures, by flowers and faces, by that lovely symmetry which even the undiscriminating eye terms beautiful. Though Papa was heir to a fortune in Impressionist art, Maman was the true aesthete. I often think of the Mourault Collection as hers alone. She took the paintings like lovers and knew all their stories: the gentle arthritic Renoir, the tempers of Degas, the humiliations of Lautrec and infidelities of Monet. She wove wondrous tales around them, audacious and certainly fictive. Maman knew that the power of a painting, of any beautiful thing, is not in itself but in its afterlife. Not the thing of a moment, but a perpetual quest.

My own quests began with the lovely Yvette Desmarais at the age of five. At my birthday party, I cornered her in the garden. Never was there a more satisfying game of cache-cache, or as you say, Hide and Seek. Those wide eyes, the color of ice on a gray day, and the lines of her bow-tie mouth. She began to scream, yet in later years took to writing me love letters. The paradox was instructive.

Later, I exercised more discretion but took great delight in spying upon one of our maids, Martine, at her bath. I did so guiltlessly; it was not so very different from gazing upon the creamy flesh of Renoir’s nudes. Only I preferred my art living.

I hesitate to say I was sex-obsessed. I had not so much an unquenchable appetite as an exacting one and as such, my cosseted world soon grew confining. I elected to spend summers with relatives in Brussels, Edinburgh and Munich. My seasons had new names: Jennifer, Adela, Genevieve, Anna. With conscious deliberation I collected women, yet they were not conquests; they were studies. I soaked in their scent, memorized their outlines, colored them in. Nothing approached the ideal of my vision. And so I sought visions everywhere, following them to their end. And then one came that did not end.

I called her Gisèle.

Meet the Author

Brandi Lynn Ryder lives in the heart of Napa Valley. In Malice, Quite Close is her first novel.

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In Malice, Quite Close 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Tristan Mourault, a Frenchman, and heir to a world renowned art collection featuring Impressionist masterpieces loses himself when sees young Karen Miller in San Francisco. He immediately decides he must have her and lets nothing deter him from that mission. The fact that she is only 15 is inconsequential, he believes he is saving her from the fate of the family she was born into. He does everything he can to win her trust and then makes the calculated plan for her disappearance. Within days Karen Miller no longer exists as she becomes Giselle, his daughter to the public, his lover in private. The story then moves ahead 15 years to Devon, Washington. An almost magical town and Tristan and Giselle are part of the eccentric art world. Giselle has matured, married and has a daughter. But all is not perfect in this wonderland they have created. Her daughter discovers something that will turn all their lives sideways. Not everyone will survive the revelations uncovered. I enjoyed what has been called a "haunting" novel. The title comes from a poem by Arthur Rimbaud entitled The First Evening and fits well with this story. The story has also been compared to Nabokov's Lolita. Quite an accomplishment for a debut novel. I found it to be a suspenseful look at some extraordinary characters in some extraordinary situations. The plot kept the pages turning and then slowed in places to an almost maddening pace and then picked up and slowed again. It was written almost like a dance or a give and take relationship with the reader. Secrets continue to be revealed until the last page and even then this reader is still unsure of the real truth. The author's descriptions of not only scenes but of the paintings that are key to the whole story are so vivid I was amazed to learn that there was not a real set of paintings to inspire her. They come alive in your mind's eye very easily. I would encourage readers that after you have read the book to go to The Reader's Guide to learn more about the background of this novel. I will not post it here because there are spoilers in the guide. It is a fine debut but I caution you to be aware of the ebb and flow because the further you get into the story you will envision the prize at the end. This is definitely a book to be savored slowly and allow it to unfold before you so you catch all the nuances of the story, like the chapter titles. There are many layers, this is more than a mystery, more than a psychological thriller, more than a philosophical look at look at how someone held captive acclimates. This a book that could leave a different impression on everyone who reads it. It can give you the shivers and make you feel a little guilty about enjoying a book that is filled with so much despair. I am anxious to see other reviews of this book and to read more by this author. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Viking. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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gaylelin More than 1 year ago
Life Imitates Art On the same day Brandi Lynn Ryder's In Malice Quite Close found its way to me, I read a news article about a missing fifteen-year-old girl. Something led the authorities to believe she'd left home willingly in the company of a sex offender who is in his 30s. This item erased my questions concerning how a young girl could just disappear without being taken against her will. This is somewhat a disturbing story told in a superbly written way that keeps you turning the pages. Karen Miller was a waif, a shabbily dressed child living in not the best of circumstances. A young man of European descent noticed her and was enamored. He spent days stalking her and planning how to make her his own. One night as he hid in her yard, observing her through her lighted bedroom window, he saw Karen's drunken father enter her room and begin to molest her. This gave our stalker the excuse he needed to "rescue" her. He began to run into her at various sites until she noticed him and questioned why he was following her. He denied that fact and befriended her, drawing her in as sexual predators so expertly do. He convinced her to run away with him. After he medicated her into unconsciousness, he drew enough blood from her veins to set up a scene that would convince the authorities that Karen had been killed and thrown into the bay. They drove from California to New York where he gave her a new name, Gisele, and introduced her to the art world as his daughter. Fifteen years pass in which Gisele married and seven months later had a daughter. Her little family continued to live with her "father", Tristan. Her husband, Luke, an ineffective painter, discovered a secret room full of nude paintings of Gisele. He suspected the artist to be his "father-in-law", but Tristan denied having painted the nudes. Everyone else thought Luke painted them himself. The paintings were brought forth to be featured in a special showing. Meanwhile, Karen's younger sister, Mandy, who was only nine at the time of Karen's abduction, and whom Karen thought died years ago in a car accident with her parents, saw an advertisement for the showing and recognized her long lost sister. This should be enough to whet your appetite. When did Gisele cease being Tristan's daughter and become his lover? Was Tristan the actual creator of the paintings? Doesn't Karen herself know who did the paintings? Add in forged masterpieces, secret passageways, paternity issues, a questionable death and you're in for a wild ride. This is a wonderful book of intrigue and mystery. I give it five stars.
Syanne Dominguez More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago