Kirkus Reviews QR Code
FUGUE by J. P. Sitler


by J. P. Sitler

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2013
ISBN: 9781478376811
Publisher: CreateSpace

In this mysterious debut thriller with dashes of the supernatural, a computer technician starts to lose track of time and encounters ghosts from his past.

For some undetermined period, Nathan Walker has been losing his memories. As a result, he can’t remember whole chunks of his past, and it’s impacting his current life more and more. He fears he may lose his job, and, at one point, he lands in the hospital after a jellyfish sting that he doesn’t remember getting becomes infected. He starts receiving mysterious emails, apparently from his dead childhood best friend, that reference events in his past—but when Nathan attempts to track the messages, they appear to be coming from his own computer. He soon sees a psychotherapist to work through his grief. The story has a tendency to pick up and drop plotlines in a confusing manner; for example, Nathan has secrets that he wants to keep from his girlfriend, Naunie, whose emotionally abusive parents have made relationships difficult for her. She’s 30 years old but still lives with her mother, Bunny Swan, who’s the very caricature of an aging Scarsdale country club doyenne, right down to her name; readers learn all about Bunny’s legal troubles stemming from a traffic accident. There’s a good story in here and some sharp prose, but Sitler frequently tells instead of shows, and sometimes what she tells can be bewildering; for example, the description of Bunny’s lawyer, Chase Cothren, is amusing and vivid, but lines such as “[l]ike any well-respected metrosexual, he had regular facials and manicures” veer into parody. Still, the text does offer up occasional moments of lyricism (“reality had begun to lose its crispness”).

A thriller with a promising, engaging concept, hampered by awkward execution.