The suspense begins with a missing address book; The Address Book, by Anne Bernays. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 255 pp. $14.95.
ANNE Bernays is a good storyteller, and in this, her seventh novel, she combines inventiveness with suspense and psychological demons. Her story is about Alicia Baer - a 43-year-old book editor, working and living in Boston with her surgeon husband and 14-year-old daughter. She is confronted by an agonizing choice: to take a better job with a large, glossy New York publishing house or to remain in Boston with her family and accept professional obscurity.
At lunch one day with an author, she leaves her address book in the restaurant. When it is finally found and returned, she finds five unknown names in it written in her handwriting. When she calls them, they all know her and have been expecting her call. She makes arrangements to meet each one. After each encounter, the narrative begins to reveal and fit in the lost and forgotten parts of Alicia, her repressions and fears, her unfulfilled ambitions. The pressure mounts; the demons take over.
It's a clever device, a little contrived but interesting. The female ''invaders'' work very well; but with Roger Tucker the lovemaking is too realistic to be hallucinatory - if that's what it was meant to be. Whether the invaders, or demons, represent temporary madness or ''selective amnesia'' we do not know. Neither does Alicia. But Alicia's problems are compounded, and the murder of her author friend ultimately seems too much.
Nevertheless, ''The Address Book'' is a pleasure to read and lingers in the mind for a while. Bernays is a smooth writer, witty and bright; the details of home, family, and work are richly satisfying and familiar. Bernays's portrayal of the publishing milieu is hilarious and marvelously recognizable.