a playpen for the pampered few. But these dark fantasies will pale and recede once Sutherland meets Nordhagen's assistant, Lina Ravachol. All alabaster features and raven-black hair, confidence and mystery, she soon has Sutherland willingly in her thrall. He is astonished that she desires him sexually, and their acrobatic, fantasy-driven trysts make him forget all about his past American life.
"Why, why, why." Nordhagen's face brightened with interest. "You might as well ask why the Mayan civilization collapsed, why Kennedy rode in an open limousine in Dallas, why we came down out of the trees. What is why? There is no why; there is only now, and this, this now."
Tessier has written a book both disturbingly grotesque and powerfully erotic. Finishing Touches (fortunately back in print) is told in first person in a clear strong voice by a man who slowly comes to face the fact that he can plumb depths of moral insanity and remain psychologically intact (There was a malignancy in me I could not explain away) and even thrive.
This is a great horror novel, filled out with touches of London life, an exploration of men and women and the madnesses and fantasies they can succumb to and embrace, and even, perhaps facing extinction, use to forge meaning in the teeth of raw dumb nature. And even at the end Tom and Lina (whose namesake she seems to aspire to) desire to be a part of that nature, instead of trying to steer it ourselves, we would have to learn to let it go its own way. Death and terror will follow, like leaves falling out of trees.