Vincent Zandri captures readers’ attention from the opening scene of his new suspense novel, Orchard Grove, and proceeds to careen through lust and lives. Lana, as a young girl, brutally slays her stepfather who has been sexually abusing her for months. In an unusual twist, Lana relishes the power she experiences when she kills him, and he becomes the first of many men she murders throughout her life.
Fast forward about 36 years, and Lana returns to the bucolic area near Albany, New York, where her murderous spree occurred. Now, however, she’s bored, is married to a police detective and has a proclivity for topless sunbathing. Her neighbor, has-been Hollywood writer Ethan Forrester, stares at her from his bedroom window and fantasizes about a relationship with her. As his fantasy becomes a reality, the story charges up and down a razor’s edge of tension and seduction.
Ethan’s obsession with Lana only increases after they have sex, and he puts their marriages, his welfare and his sanity on the line. Meanwhile, Lana also exerts her mesmerizing sexual powers over Ethan’s wife. The Forresters recognize the havoc Lana is wreaking on their marriage, but Lana’s allure is impossible for them to resist. So when Lana devises a diabolical plan and needs Ethan’s help to execute it, he ignores his better judgement and agrees to her scheme, forever altering the course of his, his wife and Lana’s lives.
While the characters don’t have many redeeming qualities, Zandri manages to create a likable persona in Ethan for whom readers can root while head-smacking him for his stupidity. The sheer audacity of the violence and sex in the novel creates a story that, much like the Forresters' obsession with Lana, is hard to tear away from once a reader is hooked.