NOBODY BELIEVES ME: A Novel of Love and Terror by Molly Katz (Ballantine: $15; 322 pp.) When Lynn Marchette, an up-and-coming, slightly neurotic Boston talk-show host, meets Greg Alter, she feels as if her life has finally begun. Not only is Greg smart, handsome and great in bed, but he is unabashedly crazy about her. A little too crazy, it seems. In "Nobody Believes Me," Molly Katz' first novel, stalking and obsessive acts are raised almost to an art form. At first, after she breaks up with him, Greg sends Lynn malevolent stuffed animals, forges her handwriting to create threatening notes and arranges for fake blood to cover the back of her dress during a live TV show. Then he pulls out the heavy artillery.
Katz is excellent at depicting the slow, relentless erosion of a person's psyche as their entire life is subjected to a hostile takeover. Lynn's character is perhaps the strongest aspect of "Nobody Believes Me," not because she is so unusual, but just the opposite--it is extremely easy to imagine knowing this person. Lynn is a little strident, a little shallow, and a lot real, and it is those human flaws that help make her character much more believable, and as a result more sympathetic, than the people you often meet in thrillers. Unfortunately, many of the other characters don't fare as well. In particular the male hero, someone we are clearly supposed to like, is such a controlling bully that it almost seems laughable to put him in a novel concerned with stalking, a behavior inexorably tied to the idea of control.