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CHANCE by Kem Nunn


by Kem Nunn

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7432-8924-5
Publisher: Scribner

Nunn, who forged his fiction-writing career by concentrating on surfers and their sport (Tijuana Straits, 2004, etc.), changes gears in this gritty portrait of a neuropsychologist named Chance.

Eldon Chance sees broken people in his job, so it’s almost inevitable that some of those individuals would bleed over into his personal life. Or what’s left of his personal life. Now that his wife, Carla, is divorcing him, and his daughter, Nicole, is growing more and more distant, Chance is starting to feel the loneliness and disengagement of losing his home life. With everything in flux and under pressure from the IRS to pay back taxes in connection with Carla’s business, Chance uncharacteristically jumps into a situation with a woman who is both mesmerizing and dangerous. Jaclyn Blackstone was a referral that Chance should have kept at a professional distance, but instead, the beautiful, fractured woman evolves into something more significant. After Chance becomes enmeshed in her life, his own becomes complicated: Jaclyn suffers from a dual personality disorder that causes her to transform into the sexually obsessed Jackie, but both of Jaclyn’s incarnations are unhappily married to a vicious, abusive police officer who makes it clear to Chance that his involvement with Jaclyn/Jackie will cost him everything he holds dear. But Chance has a bizarre ace up his sleeve in the form of his odd relationship with a man named D, a giant wall of a human being who appears not to be afraid of anyone or anything. Eventually, Nunn’s characters cross paths, and Chance’s decisions cause his life to careen from slightly off balance to out of control. Nunn, a writer with a gift for subtlety and wordplay, spins a story that is both mesmerizing and a bit confusing. Readers will find Nunn’s story well-written for the most part but not always engaging.

Lovers of Nunn’s previous novels may discover in Chance a less than creditable antihero.