Still eschewing detective work, Samuel Hoenig (The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband, 2015, etc.), proprietor of Questions Answered, finds that a client’s query leads perilously close to a murder investigation.
Even though Asperger’s syndrome has now been merged with autism, Samuel remains as opposed as ever to seeing his difference as a disorder. Still, answering a question for a client also on the autism spectrum poses unexpected challenges. First of all, Tyler Clayton has trouble even summoning the verbal skills to put his request into words. Second, Tyler’s question—“Is Richard Handy really my friend?”—requires the sort of insight into social relationships that usually eludes Samuel. Third and most alarming, after receiving a preliminary answer from Samuel, Tyler’s arrested for going to the Quik N EZ in Somerset, New Jersey, where Richard worked, and shooting him dead. Tyler’s older brother, Mason, is enraged that Samuel’s answer seems to have provoked Tyler to murder. But Samuel’s assistant, Janet Washburn, persuades Mason to ask Samuel the next logical question: who killed Richard Handy? Samuel’s much more comfortable with this query, which requires a finding of fact rather than a reading of human feelings. His inquiry leads to a final challenge, however, when Ms. Washburn enlists the aid of her estranged husband, Simon Taylor, in reading a clue they find at the murder scene. Now Samuel faces a question no one will pay him to answer: will Ms. Washburn really go through with her divorce?
The ways of the neurotypical continue to perplex this unusual protagonist, much to the delight of readers of all cognitive stripes.