Beneath the Skin is a spooky, highly effective psychological thriller. Initially, the women refuse, as do the police, to take the threats seriously--they are happy, they are inviolable; surely these letters are the work of a harmless crank. But the novel watches Zoe, Nadia, and Jenny move from blithely insouciant denial, to frustration, to creeping terror, and finally to the stark realization that neither they nor anyone else will prevent this killer from destroying them. French skillfully evokes the insidiousness with which the letters invade the women's lives, straining and shattering relationships, pushing each toward fearful insanity. Perhaps the novel's greatest appeal lies in its mordant irony: not only do the stalker's threats push and fester "beneath the skin," but they also draw out the flaws and terrors that are already there. French sketches the women's weaknesses and fears with merciless accuracy, stripping them naked long before the killer arrives to finish what his letters have begun.
This was my first time reading Nicci French and it won't be my last.