A Nantucket reporter investigating deer mutilations uncovers a much larger—and stranger—story in this suspenseful thriller.
Something is mutilating deer in Nantucket. Simon Stephenson, son of a rich father who recently died, spent a lot of time on the island, but he now makes his own living as an environmental reporter. But almost at once, the story he’s following becomes far more mysterious and deadly, and it begins to include Simon himself; rare gold coins keep appearing around him, even in his pockets. At a dinner party, a French woman who knew Simon’s father whispers to him, “Find it,” then “Kill it….And a god you will become.” As dramatic as that sounds, the ensuing events don’t disappoint. Simon uncovers a shadowy, age-old conspiracy involving alchemists, the gold standard, the philosopher’s stone, Nantucket, and the Gryphon, a mythological creature known as messenger, guardian and divine counselor. Everything, it turns out, is at stake, and Simon faces a decision that will have enormous consequences. In his debut novel, Baker shows great skill, expertly upping the stakes while keeping the progression believable. His characterizations and dialogue are excellent. He quickly sketches recognizable types—Nantucket fishermen, high-society swells, a buff bodyguard. Simon’s character is multidimensional—he has panic attacks and complicated feelings about his father, a powerful man who died after Simon wrote an exposé on his company’s arms dealing. Several characters are not what they seem, and revelations about them serve the story well. Baker includes a few welcome laugh breaks; he also writes a good erotic scene. The conclusion, a bit of a gamble, honors the logic of the thriller.
A multilayered, surprising and beautifully written novel of mythology, suspense and mystery.