Rising Star: Rebecca Connell, author

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The Independent Culture

A first novelist who stakes out a compact patch and cultivates it with style hints at greater promise than one who aims higher, but goes messily astray.

In 'The Art of Losing' (Fourth Estate), 29-year-old south Londoner Rebecca Connell knows just what she's about: a tormented young woman whose mother died long ago after an affair with a married man the daughter sees as "the devil brought to life"; a plan for vengeance, served very cold; a stalker-style invasion of the culprit's life.

Connell switches between aggrieved Louise's voice and that of the seducer, Nicholas. This counterpoint adds perspective and sharpens a finely-crafted mood of curdled sensuality and gathering menace. The truth, of course, is not quite what it seems.