IN THE CUT by Susanna Moore

Book Reviews
IN THE CUT by Susanna Moore
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Aug 1, 1996, 19:52

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IN THE CUT by Susanna Moore; Knopf, 1995

This book, handed to me by a clerk in a store called Kramerbooks in Washington, D.C., came out of left field and caught me by surprise. The guy made a gift of it, said it was the best noir he had read in a long time. I read the author's name, saw it was a woman, and thought, okay, I'll check it out... but women can't really do noir.

In The Cut is the story of a young New York City schoolteacher who is secure enough in herself to explore her own sexuality in a vigorous, private and quiet way. She witnesses the prelude to a murder and enters into an affair with the detective handling the case. She begins to have her doubts as to the innocence of her detective friend and his partner, and also suspects that one of her students is becoming close to her in an unhealthy manner. Things begin to close in on her, but her nature compels her to move forward and not retreat from further pleasurable explorations. Eventually she will embrace the darkness she has been chasing all along.

Susanna Moore has written an astonishing book, clear and uncompromising, a Looking for Mr. Goodbar for thinking adults. Be warned that this is a truly disturbing novel. It is also supercharged and highly erotic. Depending on who you are, this book will either make you wet or get you sprung, guaranteed. Read it in public at your own risk.

Oh yeah, as far as my theorizing that woman can't “do” noir: the two finest and sexiest noirs I've read this past year were Susanna Moore's In the Cut and Vicki Hendricks' Miami Purity. Which throws water on that theory of mine, in a big way.

-George Pelecanos

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