A haunting, sophisticated debut in which priceless art and dangerous desires converge.... In Malice, Quite Close
Brandi Lynn Ryder When Tristan Mourault—expatriate aesthete, and heir to a priceless collection of Impressionist masterpieces—catches sight of young Karen Miller during a trip to San Francisco, he knows he must have her. Convincing himself that she deserves more than the frayed, middle-brow life she was born into, he sets into motion a calculated campaign of enchantment that sweeps Karen off her feet. First, he stages her disappearance. Then, her transformation. Karen, the ordinary fifteen-year-old girl, becomes Gisèle. Fifteen years later, Devon, Washington. Framed by glacial lakes and snow-capped mountains, Devon is a picturesque bohemia with a prospering art scene. Tristan and Gisèle are the center of this elite and capricious world, and Gisèle herself has matured into a sophisticated young woman. The desired object of many admirers, she is also now a devoted mother to her daughter Nicola and a distant wife to Luke, the man she married to keep up appearances. To the outside world, Tristan is her devoted "father." But the secrets that hold their life together are as elaborate as the architecture of their stunning home. When Nicola uncovers a cache of unsigned nude portraits—all of Gisèle —Tristan's carefully curated world erupts, and tragedy unfolds. An exploration into the origins of obsession and the beguiling power of art, In Malice, Quite Close tells a story of perilous greed and manipulation, drawing readers into a byzantine drama that keeps its darkest secrets until the very last page.
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Like A Guilty Thing....

First Evening
(Première Soirée) She was barely dressed though,
And the great indiscreet trees
Touched the glass with their leaves,
In malice, quite close, quite close. Sitting in my deep chair,
Half-naked, hands clasped together,
On the floor, little feet, so fine,
So fine, shivered with pleasure. I watched, the beeswax color
Of a truant ray of sun’s glow
Flit about her smile, and over
Her breast – a fly on the rose. I kissed her delicate ankle.
She gave an abrupt sweet giggle
Chiming in clear trills,
A pretty laugh of crystal. Her little feet under her slip
Sped away: ‘Will you desist!’
Allowing that first bold act,
Her laugh pretended to punish! Trembling under my lips,
Poor things, I gently kissed her lids.
She threw her vapid head back.
‘Oh! That’s worse, that is!’ ‘Sir, I’ve two words to say to you...’
I planted the rest on her breast
In a kiss that made her laugh
With a laugh of readiness…. She was barely dressed though,
And the great indiscreet trees
Touched the glass with their leaves
In malice, quite close, quite close. –Arthur Rimbaud, translation by A.S. Kline


The Mourault Collection Chapter titles from In Malice, Quite Close are taken from pieces of Tristan Mourault's priceless collection of Impressionist art. The collection becomes a character in itself, playing a large part in Tristan's upbringing and ongoing obsession with "possessing" beauty... "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 think of the Mourault
Collection as hers alone. She took the paintings 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." To view the paintings and get a hint of other collections mentioned in the books, please visit the:

I – THE COLLECTOR This is my apology. There is no other word for it. It is a true account, but it’s my truth alone. I tell you this at the start, for while I regret the end, I will no doubt justify the means and this must not move you. I have come to see I’m incapable of drawing clear moral distinctions. For me the question of what can or cannot be done has never been an ethical one. There is no line I cannot smudge with my thumb. I have always been undone by beautiful things, and it might be said that beauty itself was my quarry. The intangible made flesh. I never set out to “abduct” anyone. I find the very word distasteful, for it establishes so gross an imbalance between subject and object. Beauty and the beholder are complicit in their crimes, you see. And I have been slave to my nature as much as master. Ah, but what would I be if not for that day? For February, it was tantalizingly warm along the bay, the sun returning with renewed ardor after days of fog and rain. To think that one’s fate rests upon the weather— upon a sky so very blue and clouds so starchy white. To think that it rests in the movement of sunlight upon a silken dress. Read more.... Download a 20-page excerpt: * Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from IN MALICE, QUITE CLOSE by Brandi Lynn Ryder. Copyright © 2011 by Brandi Lynn Ryder


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