Review

Robbie's Wife

by Russell Hill

Russell Hill is not a household name, but it is certainly a
familiar one to critics and other literati. He has been a recipient
of the Fulbright and NEA awards for his poetry and fiction.
However, he has not been particularly prolific, so the original
publication of his new novel, ROBBIE'S WIFE, is especially
welcome.

ROBBIE'S WIFE revisits the general territory covered so well by
James M. Cain in his immortal THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, but
with some important differences. Jack Stone is a Hollywood
screenwriter whose wellspring of ideas has run dry. Abandoned by
his wife and low on funds, he makes a desperate attempt to start
his creative juices flowing once again with an extended trip to the
English countryside. When his lodging doesn't quite work out, he
finds himself on a farm that doubles as a bed and breakfast. There
he meets Maggie Barlow, whose husband Robbie is working on a sheep
farm. Robbie is an intellectual whose university life took a
different turn, and Maggie had grand plans to be a ballet
dancer.

To the Barlows, Stone seems like an exotic creature, an
out-of-the-ordinary character with a life far more interesting than
their mundane and somewhat predictable existence. For his part,
Stone is incrementally captivated by Maggie, whose restless
sensuality stirs passions within him that he had thought were
stilled forever. Stone begins writing a screenplay --- part fact,
part fantasy --- involving himself and Maggie, and the lengths to
which he will go in order to possess her. As fiction and reality
inexorably blend, Stone's plan almost immediately begins to
backfire. But even he doesn't know how wrong things will go until
it is far too late to reverse his actions.

Hill is in no hurry as he tells his tale, methodically laying out
his background so that when the smoldering chemistry between Maggie
and Stone inevitably erupts, he has everything in place, even if
one does not see what's coming. It is somewhat ironic that ROBBIE'S
WIFE may become Hill's best known novel. Certainly the quality of
this work (past awards notwithstanding) indicates that he deserves
wider recognition than he has experienced heretofore. ROBBIE'S WIFE
may provide Hill with precisely that.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 24, 2011

Robbie's Wife
by Russell Hill

  • Publication Date: February 27, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hard Case Crime
  • ISBN-10: 0843957697
  • ISBN-13: 9780843957693