Whatever happened to Nicholas Green? The disappearance of the American vacationer from a Canadian village is a crisis for the other characters but a yawn for the reader, who’s in on the secret.
Welcome to East Sooke, a coastal village on Vancouver Island with a mix of year-rounders and summer rentals, but watch out for Cyrus Coddington. The unemployed 19-year-old islander is a voyeur and petty thief capable of terrorizing harmless renters, bursting into their cottages at night but allowing them to escape. Now he’s watching some new arrivals: Nicholas and Samina, their little girl Hilda and houseguests Greg and Laurel. They’re academics on sabbatical. Greg is cheating on Laurel, who’s a liar and troublemaker; their brittle marriage is juxtaposed to the indestructible union of their hosts. Cyrus watches their cottage constantly; he’s fascinated by Samina, who is Indian. What else does he have to do? His absent-minded father is holed up writing a book, and his best friend Ginny is out of town. Cyrus is a half-formed creation. Klimasewiski can’t decide whether to make him a truly sinister creep or just an aimless jerk, not beyond redemption. He is similarly ambivalent about whether Cyrus or the academics—with their low-level intrigue—are his primary focus. By now, Cyrus has a casual relationship with them. Alone on the beach with Nicholas, he accidentally swings a stick so hard it kills the guy. The body will wash out to sea. Strangely, the American’s death does not change Cyrus. He actually joins the search party, and eventually confesses to Ginny, who’s shocked. Back at the cottage, Samina is devastated, but gets no support from Laurel, who turns vicious, or Greg, more interested in whether Cyrus’s father has the goods on Lewis Carroll (that’s biographer Greg’s field). The role of Cyrus will never become public knowledge in a story that withholds both suspense and catharsis.
A limp first novel, shallow in its characterizations and lacking narrative energy.