A thriller focuses on the nature and nurture of geniuses.
Like many geniuses, Roosevelt Unger doesn’t fit in. He is teased by his classmates, which drives him to succeed and to seek revenge. At MIT, his jealousy causes him to murder two of his rivals, twin brothers. He becomes a renowned surgeon but then discovers his natural talent as a mime. As a result, he begins to kill the world’s greatest mimes onstage. He meets Megâlo, a manipulative genius who runs a mysterious website that purports to counsel misunderstood souls with high IQs. Aristotle Morgan, a school rival of Roosevelt’s and also a genius, is a security expert and an up-and-coming artist. Aristotle develops a program to track crimes and is the first to notice the pattern of the globe’s most celebrated mimes being murdered. Aristotle’s college sweetheart, Avianna, is a scientist developing a breakthrough in genetic engineering. Megâlo is afflicted with a disease called NF1, which Avianna’s research might be able to combat. Aristotle wants to save Roosevelt, whom he considers “a decent but severely damaged person who chose a psychopathic path.” But Megâlo would like to keep Roosevelt on that dark passageway. Dyner (The Back Room, 2015) offers a highly inventive and complex psychological thriller that tackles an ambitious subject. But while the story presents some rich characters, it often becomes confusing to follow, especially the way the author jumps back and forth in time. He starts in the middle, with Roosevelt murdering a mime and Megâlo preventing Aristotle from stopping it. Then Dyner moves to the missing twins and a graduation speech 20 years earlier, then four years earlier to Aristotle’s entering college, then back to Roosevelt six years before that. None of the characters are introduced formally, and some of the narrative is presented in italics, which readers find out later in the book is from Megâlo’s point of view, possibly written in a journal. The prose is frequently overwritten, as when Megâlo asserts: “My plot to orchestrate public aspersions on Aristotle Morgan’s character has been effectuated brilliantly.” Settings often go unestablished, and much of the plot depends on coincidences, from Aristotle’s and Roosevelt’s scrapes in college to Avianna’s research relating to Megâlo’s affliction.
A wildly imaginative but sometimes perplexing psychological tale.