A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion by Ron Hansen
A Novel

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Synopsis

From the acclaimed author of Atticus and Mariette in Ecstasy comes a stylish novel set in the hard-drinking, fast-living New York City of the Jazz Age that follows two lovers in a torrid affair on an arc of murder and sexual self-destruction.

Based on a real case whose lurid details scandalized Americans in 1927 and sold millions of newspapers, acclaimed novelist Ron Hansen’s latest work is a tour de force of erotic tension and looming violence. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Ruth Snyder is a voluptuous, reckless, and altogether irresistible woman who wishes not only to escape her husband but that he die—and the sooner the better. No less miserable in his own tedious marriage is Judd Gray, a dapper corset-and-brassiere salesman who travels the Northeast peddling his wares. He meets Ruth in a Manhattan diner, and soon they are conducting a white-hot affair involving hotel rooms, secret letters, clandestine travels, and above all, Ruth’s increasing insistence that Judd kill her husband. Could he do it? Would he? What follows is a thrilling exposition of a murder plan, a police investigation, the lovers’ attempt to escape prosecution, and a final reckoning for both of them that lays bare the horror and sorrow of what they have done. Dazzlingly well-written and artfully constructed, this impossible-to-put-down story marks the return of an American master known for his elegant and vivid novels that cut cleanly to the essence of the human heart, always and at once mysterious and filled with desire.
 

About Ron Hansen

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Ron Hansen is the bestselling author of the novel Atticus (a finalist for the National Book Award), Hitler's Niece, Mariette in Ecstasy, Desperadoes, and Isn't It Romantic?, as well as a collection of short stories, a collection of essays, and a book for children. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Ron Hansen lives in northern California, where he teaches at Santa Clara University.
 
Published June 7, 2011 by Scribner. 274 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion

Kirkus Reviews

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Describing the Judd-Snyder trial and accompanying media circus, Hansen occasionally lapses into passages of flat-footed journalistic reportage, yet even the dry style serves a purpose: It brings into sharp relief the lurid and sexist coverage of the trial (which made Snyder into a predatory nymph...

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The New York Times

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“He lifted Ruth to her feet so his clotheshorse hands could deftly undo and tease off a hushed waterfall of jeweled white evening gown,” Mr. Hansen writes, doing his most obvious embroidery when writing in torrid mode.

Jun 05 2011 | Read Full Review of A Wild Surge of Guilty Passio...

The New York Times

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Even by the standards of a time when some dozen major New York area newspapers competed for scoops and sensations, the 1927 murder trial of Ruth Snyder and her lover, Judd Gray, was a huge story.

Jun 17 2011 | Read Full Review of A Wild Surge of Guilty Passio...

Publishers Weekly

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Hansen has built a formidable career out of reinvigorating historical episodes with accomplished fiction (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), but this lurid 1920s noir procedural lacks the pop and crackle of his better works.

Mar 07 2011 | Read Full Review of A Wild Surge of Guilty Passio...

The Columbus Dispatch

Readers can feel Hansen’s fascination with the story — and his delight at the wealth of material: the memoirs written by both murderers, the news and court reports, the testimony of lesser characters, the secondary material that flowed for years after the trial and the executions of Snyder and G...

Jul 24 2011 | Read Full Review of A Wild Surge of Guilty Passio...

Bookmarks Magazine

Ron Hansen, critically acclaimed author of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), brings his historical fiction prowess to a salacious murder that scandalized the American public and provided the inspiration for the classic James N.

Jun 14 2011 | Read Full Review of A Wild Surge of Guilty Passio...

Shelf Awareness

In the tradition of Mendele the Book Peddler, on Sunday, May 22, Jonathan Papernick, aka "Papernick the Book Peddler," pushed his book cart in New York City from Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side to the Lower East Side.

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