A Reliable Wife, By Robert Goolrick

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Having penned his own misery-lit in the shape of a childhood memoir, Robert Goolrick's fictional debut takes its inspiration from some of the grimmer anecdotes of life in the pioneering mid-West.

The novel opens in 1907 in small-town Wisconsin, a place where people "went to bed well and woke up insane. Ran away. Hanged themselves."

Out of the snow steps businessman Ralph Truitt, waiting at the station to collect a mail-order bride. Yet when she steps off the train she isn't the plain housekeeper he had envisaged, but a young woman with more depraved designs in mind. Psychosexual, psychopathic, psycho-everything: Goolrick is out to thrill.

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