What links Clorinda to the mysterious disappearance of her new friend Theresa, in broad daylight, on the streets of New York? What is the true relationship between high-born, nine-year-old Elise von Alpenberg and her sinister guardian, Kepler von Thul? Why does young Marthe’s uneasy interview with the notorious spy, Anthony Blunt, stir up suspicions of complicity against her boss, the Establishment socialite Barbara? And who is the true Fourth Man? And what connects Barbara to Constance Bryde, an unfaithful wife enmeshed in the cat-and-mouse surveillance operations of a divorce solicitor’s enquiry agent? Or how will jilted mistress, Rhona, deliver a long-overdue comeuppance to her Significant Other, the supercilious on-screen Talking Head? And who, you may well wonder, is the next doomed subject of portraitist Deverell-Hewells’s murderous thoughts? And, finally, can Nina discreetly maintain the façade that hides the eternal triangle of her complicated lovelife? These questions and more are answered in Eisner’s third series of mordant case histories intimately documenting bizarre dramas triggered by the subclinical dependencies of disturbed minds.
‘A meticulous recorder of behaviour, pitch-perfect on accents and the faultlines between class, sex and age, Eisner imbues each account with an unsettling verisimilitude that reaches its peak in ‘An Unreined Mind’.’ —Cathi Unsworth
‘Eisner's collection is subtitled, Hidden Lives of Love, Madness, Murder, Loss and Deception, and while the sense of madness and loss is amplified by the book's extraordinary and disturbing cover, there is also a tremendous sense of fun here. The title story is the last testament of its asexual narrator. It's a odd story, full of strange characters and erotic imagery: the narrator's husband refers to her as his ‘long noodle’, and poor Uncle Irving's body has to be identified by dental records – all that is left of him is his toupee. The stories in this collection are dark and the characters are ‘driven by bizarre and sometimes criminal compulsions.’’ —Carys Bray
‘I've long been an admirer of Catherine Eisner's piquant and highly original fictions in the literary journal, 'Ambit', and of her singularly rich pictorial and sensuous prose. Here at last she is given a very much broader canvas for her character studies of women at the end of their tether, though it's the minute detail of their dysfunctional, drug-dependant (and even criminal) lives I admire so much.’ —Johanna Behrendt
‘Eisner herself intrigues me almost as much as her work. This is because she is profoundly knowledgeable in so many different fields: she understands the pop scene of the 1960s; she obviously knows a lot about the publishing industry; she exhibits more than a passing acquaintance with a wide range of ‘mind-altering substances’; she is erudite, although she wears her learning lightly, pronouncing telling mots justes upon the giants (and some of the minnows) of Western civilisation’s authors, artists and musicians across many centuries; she understands Latin and several European languages besides English; she has an acute ear for dialect (in A Bad Case, southern Irish, especially) as well as the varying cadences of speech that derive from differences in social standing; and, if she has not lived among the British aristocracy, she has clearly had opportunities to observe it at first hand. Wow!’ —Christina James