Psychological suspense writer Wilson’s hardcover debut introduces decidedly oddball English loner Gerald Haxton. Gerald has seen Cats 105 times, Starlight Express 215 times, and the revival of Oklahoma! (since you asked) 39 times. In between curtain-risings, he’s also become so obsessed with his warehouse coworker’s daughter Mel that he follows the pretty teenager everywhere, carefully stepping into doorways and behind cars to avoid being seen himself. When Mel goes missing, Gerald’s previous arrest and release for child molestation surfaces along with some other troubling details about his past, including his finding the body of his adopted sister Vera back in ’44, his traumatic birth and that of his stillborn twin, his interior chats with Jack, that same and now idealized twin, and his imperfect relationship with his mother, the famous children’s book author M.M. Haldane, whose series character Tom Tyler is everything Gerald is not: smart, handsome, beloved. Running from his accusers, Gerald seeks out his Aunt Tilly, who, unbeknownst to him, is taking time out from dying to explain to her new friend, a gay vaudevillian called Tiny, the facts about a long-ago love triangle, an unresolved murder, and simple Gerald’s need for friendly supervision. The search for Mel and Gerald ends in a caravan on the coast on the eve of the 50th anniversary of V-E Day, the date when Gerald’s initial ordeal began.
Gripping, with an icy dovetailing of past and present—though the children’s-book excerpts could have been given a miss.