So what would you do if you'd just killed a rich man's housekeeper, when the bomb you set for her employer went off while she was still in the house? You might run, as Mary does, to a motel room in Lincoln, Nebraska, 'practically the dead centre of the country', because you'd expect them to expect you to head for one or another of the coasts. You'd probably rip up your address book, dumping it page by page in separate bins. You'd certainly dye your hair, discovering, as people generally do, that instead of the 'liberated' shade advertised on the L'Oréal packet, your hair turns 'a daffodil yellow blonde'. And you'd think up a new name for yourself, working through lists of friends, childhood toys, pop stars, to hit, possibly, on Caroline, from the Beach Boys song. 'OK,' Mary thinks, 'there was no point in being witty about any of this, encoding it or making it coherent in any way . . . if it is legible to you, then it gives you away.' It's a powerful fantasy, the shedding of the old life, with or without the add-on of relentless FBI pursuit: 'She existed in nunlike simplicity. Her constant fear ordered her life and gave her purpose. Everything pertained to her maintaining her liberty, nothing else applied.'
LRB 7 June 2007 | PDF Download