Langer (Crossing California, 2004, etc.) skewers pretensions of writers and writing, editors and publishers—and perhaps audiences—in a literary thriller.
With his wife seeking tenure at Indiana University, the eponymous protagonist Adam Langer is a Bloomington house husband, shuffling between day care and shopping, saving a few moments to restart a stalled literary career. Son of an absent father (he knows only the name, Sid J. Langer) and a single mother who wrote anagrams and word puzzles, Adam has written one novel, but most of his writing has involved author profiles for a New York magazine. That’s how he met Conner Joyce, writer of "honest-cop-stuck-in-a-corrupt-system tales." Conner is reading in Bloomington; Adam drops by for a visit. Later, after a reading in Chicago, Conner calls Adam with a fantastic story. Conner has been offered $2.5 million to write a novel for a mysterious fellow named Dex Dunford. The book will be read only by Dunford and his bodyguard, Pavel, who "looked as if he might once have worked on a security detail for Vladimir Putin." More fascinating, Dunford also owns unpublished manuscripts by J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee and other famous writers. Needing money, Conner agrees to write the novel. And that's when the fun begins. Along the way, there’s a jewel-encrusted zip drive, a bank heist and a revelation that fractures Adam's perception of his heritage. The denouement is great.