Rear Window crossed with Rain Man and updated for the virtual age, Barclay's latest nail-biter has a map-obsessed schizophrenic discovering a murder while browsing street images online. He and his brother are targeted by the people behind the murder, who work for the New York attorney general and his gubernatorial campaign.
Thomas Kilbride spends most of his time in his bedroom in upstate New York, walking the streets of the world via Whirl360, a program akin to Google's Street View. He says he works for the CIA, absorbing cartographic details for the day when a cyberterrorist attack wipes out all maps, and regularly confers with Bill Clinton. His older brother, Ray, a successful political cartoonist who has returned home from Vermont for their father's funeral, rejects Thomas' fictions, sometimes harshly. But after Thomas shows him the chilling image of a woman with a bag pulled over her head in a New York City apartment window and Ray investigates the scene in person, there's no dismissing the possibility of murder. One death leads to another, the brothers become targets, and a crucial mistake by the female hired killer, a one-time Olympic gymnast who now scores with an ice pick, puts her life at risk. Though a few of the plot turns squeak, Barclay is a master of the understated surprise. And though the climax of the book loses some of its heat to its humor—and a secondary plot involving the accidental death of the father and a childhood incident involving Thomas—the payoff is still plenty satisfying. Thomas is one of Barclay's best and most sympathetic characters yet. The scene in which he finds himself walking actual streets for the first time, exposed to their smells and sounds, is memorable.
The Toronto-based Barclay (The Accident, 2011, etc.) delivers another page turner that contains as much pleasure in the setup as the outcome.