The difficulties created for a Manhattan family by the renovation of the apartment upstairs include a homicidal stalker.
From the first sentence, it all starts so innocently: “Mark and Karen Breakstone got married a little late in life.” When they're set up by mutual friends, she loves his humor, he loves her body, and soon they're happily expecting a baby and living in an apartment building west of Park Avenue in the unit just below the penthouse. But just pages into their tale, Weiner introduces a second storyline: “About ten years before Mark and Karen’s first date, Robert Klasky was born in Newark, New Jersey to a single mother in the public hospital.” Young Bobby has drawn some very bad cards in life—his mother is a totally unmaternal heroin addict whose home is filled with fellow junkies and nasty boyfriends and whose son is last on her list of concerns. Before long, Bobby’s deep emotional warping and capacity for violence are expressed in crimes of escalating seriousness. In the meantime, the Breakstones’ beautiful baby daughter has grown into a leggy and very bright adolescent whose upbringing has driven a wedge between her unhappy parents. Clearly there’s a reason these stories are being told side by side, and it cannot be good. As the plot plummets terrifyingly toward God knows what, the highly stylized sentences have a headlong energy of their own. “One day Bobby had to break up a fight between his Mother and her Boyfriend…and eventually revealed to the Officer that, although sharing heroin had begun their romance, their habits had grown and forced them to ruthlessly compete over every score. The Officer said Bobby was a survivor and urged him to get away from the house as soon as possible.” Oh, he will.
The creator of Mad Men makes his fiction debut with a noirish novella designed to be read in one hair-raising session.