The Canadian playwright’s first novel, based on his own radio drama and first published in his native country in 2002, traces the links across a generation between two lost boys.
Walker Devereaux remembers his mother leaving him clinging tightly to a wire fence when he was three years old. And he has a letter that seems to have been written to Lennie, his absent mom, by her school friend Kim, plus a photo that presumably shows the two girls together. But that’s all he knows about Lennie or his own early life. At 19, he leaves his adoptive family in Big River to trace a possible lead to Toronto, where he finds a cheap apartment, a night job driving a cab, and a rapidly blooming friendship with Krista Papadopoulos, his wheelchair-bound dispatcher. What he doesn’t find is Lennie. In fact, somebody seems to have a special interest in frustrating his search—somebody who breaks into his place, steals the letter and photo, sets fire to Krista’s car, and kills a cat who’s adopted Walker in turn. Undeterred by these obligatory threats, he traces Lennie to a suburban Ontario town and,ultimately, to Jamaica. As Walker zeroes in on his goal, Nichol keeps flashing back to the story of Bobby Nuremborski, a disturbed little boy 16 years older than Walker who becomes an even more disturbing young man under pressure from his demanding, protective father and his shameful attraction to other boys. Though it’s obvious that these two stories will collide, and almost equally obvious how, Nichol keeps tension high by slipping off-kilter new characters into the deck and dangling repeated false solutions in front of Walker until it’s finally time to bring his two frightened children face to face.
A highly effective thriller that freshens familiar scenes, dodges, and themes by fleshing them out with an appealingly new cast.