Books: A Whydunnit in Q-Sharp Major

THE DRIVER'S SEAT by Muriel Spark. 117 pages. Knopf. $4.95.

Muriel Spark's tenth novel is a portrait of insanity nearly as stark as madness itself. The heroine is Lise, a 34-year-old spinster who has worked in the same office in a North European city for 16 years. Having bought herself an ugly traveling outfit, she sets out for an unnamed southland ostensibly for a vacation, but really to find someone willing to kill her."

Like much of Spark's writing, The Driver's Seat has some of the elements of a thriller, but there is no real suspense. In fact, the book is like the...