Back in the 1980's, a whole generation of married men watched Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close portraying a psychotic spurned lover and said to themselves that having an extra-marital affair was a bad idea. Bunny-boiler even became a much-used phrase for depicting a slightly crazy person. Well, Hans Koppel's You're Mine Now is likely to have a similar effect, but this time on married women.
To begin with, I could really relate to Anna. She's the same age as me, has a reasonably happy suburban life as a working wife and mum and rolls her eyes in amused disapproval when her equally married female colleagues flirt and have secret trysts on their work conferences. I even chuckled to myself when she had a slightly heated argument with her husband Magnus about not seeing the logic of buying a brand new car to replace their four-year old vehicle as a money-saving measure (it will lose value, it will soon start needing repairs, ...) because I had almost the exact same, word-for-word discussion with Madhouse Daddy at Christmas !
When she meets the young, good-looking and definitely interested Erik on a work trip, she is flattered by the attention and embarks on a sex-fuelled fling with him. Although it's out of character and she has no intentions of leaving her husband and her comfortable life, the sex and the thrill of excitement keep her coming back for more. When Erik starts showing some slightly worrying behaviour, such as taking photos of her in the shower, alarm bells start ringing and she decides to put an end to it ... but Erik has other ideas and will go to any lengths to keep her in his life.
The strapline on the front of the book promises "the most terrifying crime novel you will ever read" and the blurb on the back of the book evokes "a terrifying finale that will scare you out of your skin". Well, it was an enjoyable read but I wouldn't go that far. I actually felt a bit detached from the central characters and ended up feeling like they partly deserved what they got. While Anna's questionable decisions were initially believable, I found it unlikely that she would reveal all to her mum and even less so, that her mum would go vigilante like a meddling Miss Marple. I just can't believe that the Swedish authorities would give out such detailed information over the phone and telling someone threatening that you've just worked out that they are not normal and need professional help has to go down as the worst (and most unlikely) idea ever.
It was easy enough to dislike and condemn Erik but I also wanted to understand his motives more. The opening scene leaves us in no doubt that he is the villain of the piece but there is no explanation of his motives. Similarly, the dramatic scenes on the clifftop at the end all seemed a bit too convenient and swiftly dispatched.
Despite my misgivings, I stayed up well past my bedtime on a couple of nights and raced through the whole book in just a few days, which is always the sign of an enjoyable and exciting read.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £6.99 (I bought mine as part of a 3-for-£5 deal at The Works)