Fictionalized autobiography about a Texas writer’s increasingly desperate attempts to save himself and his family from a psychotic stalker.
Leavenworth’s first novel begins with a true, bizarre, and terrifying incident that obsessed him for years: One night he answered the door of his Galveston home and met a perfect stranger who shot him in the chest with a .25 caliber pistol. He makes this the starting point of a story about Gordon O’Connor, a freelance journalist and family man, who struggles to unravel the mystery of a similar incident. Naturally shaken by the attack, Gordon flees with his wife and two sons to their beach house, only to be awakened in the middle of the night by a telephone call from his attacker. The police, at first, are not only unhelpful but downright suspicious, asking why Gordon never reported the earlier acts of vandalism (broken windows, etc.) that he now believes were committed by his stalker, and privately questioning whether Gordon is involved in some sort of hoax. But Gordon’s father-in-law, Pat Hayes, an ex-FBI agent with strong political connections, brings in some of his old friends to help sort out the case and they soon come up with—very little. The uncertainty of the situation makes Gordon increasingly paranoid, and he soon finds reasons to suspect everyone around him—from his brother-in-law Allen (a drug addict with a criminal record) to his father-in-law Pat (who concealed Allen’s criminal record from Gordon) right up to his wife Ana (whom Gordon begins to think is having an affair). As his life veers out of control, Gordon takes increasingly desperate measures to find security, but nothing succeeds—until he finally confronts his attacker face-to-face. By this time, his story has become as much a tale of psychological terror as criminal suspense.
Leavenworth builds up tension gradually and deliberately, giving a sharp edge of eeriness to what could have been a run-of-the-mill thriller.