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AUDITION, by Ryu Murakami. W. W. Norton & Company, 208 pp., $13.95 (paper)

Building to a bloody finale, this psychological thriller tells the story of Aoyama (a documentary filmmaker) and Yamasaki (a would-be actress) and their doomed and gore-crossed affair. The prose is racy in both senses of the word, fast and sexual, giving the reader scant time to think about love’s hallucinogenic descent into violence. Not a novel for the squeamish but an intelligent and compelling twist on the horror genre. As the book reaches its climax, you will be reading it through spread fingers ready to shut out the terrors. Or you could read it behind the sofa.

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