Starr’s latest walk on the sour side stakes out his heroine between an insensitive lout and a murderous sociopath.
Katie Porter isn’t much of a heroine. She worries too much about her weight, is basically clueless about the New York types she dates and hasn’t had much of a relationship with her parents ever since her college-freshman sister Heather jumped off a roof. But Katie surely deserves better than the two guys competing for her favors. Andy Barnett, a junior investment analyst with the soul of a frat boy, thinks of nothing but getting laid and impressing his porn-fixated roommates, and he has no more interest in reading Katie’s emotions than in learning Sanskrit. But the real danger is Peter Wells, a stalker who’s taken a job at the Metro Sports Club just so that he’ll have a plausible excuse to meet the woman he’s determined to marry. In the first, and funnier, half of this oxygen-deprived idyll, Peter plots to win Katie’s affections, misjudging her actual feelings. Once Peter crosses the line to murder, Starr, true to form, turns the case over first to a loser cop with a terrible clearance rate, then to a preening narcissist who won’t listen to anybody.
As in his first seven novels (Lights Out, 2006, etc.), Starr updates the noir playbook by making every single character as unappealing as last night’s cigarette smoke.