A complex psychological thriller exploring twin sisters’ folie à deux, set against the backdrop of corporate downsizing.
In his latest novel, Lacey (The BP Corollary, 2013, etc.) promises the “first psychological thriller to detail the psychotic transformation experience.” That claim is a bit grand—as is the author’s suggestion that people with bipolar or manic-depressive disorder who read the book might “avoid becoming psychotic.” But his inventive story of identical, psychotic twins makes for compelling reading for those interested in the workings of the deviant mind. When a British Petroleum executive is murdered in his Cleveland office, police suspect a revenge killing, as does BP employee John McCall, who’s still reeling from the brutal murder of his wife several years earlier. He’s convinced that the recent crimes are linked to the company’s ruthless cost-cutting, which offers, as McCall said in a speech, “short-term gain at the expense of the lives of…employees.” He investigates in an attempt to prove his theory but discovers that the truth is far more complicated and frightening. It involves two beautiful English twin sisters, Beatrice Enola Winter and Beatrice Gay Winter, who pose as one woman and have a dark agenda that they feel compelled to pursue. Lacey takes readers on a journey from Cleveland to Mexico to Hawaii as McCall is perilously drawn into the twins’ orbit. The novel gets off to a slow start, as an overly detailed subplot involving McCall’s plans to halt BP downsizing bogs down the narrative. But the core conceit of criminally inclined, psychologically damaged twins is an absorbing one that will appeal to those who enjoy dark, twisted books by the likes of Stephen King or Thomas Harris, or films such as director David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers (1988). If anything, the book falters under the weight of its own ambitions, which include heavy-handed literary allusions, a second pair of psychotic-sibling murderers, and metafictional touches, such as a BP employee named Rick who’s written a novel, Cat Fever, that exposes the company’s dirty secrets; Lacey, whose first name is Rick, is a former BP employee whose debut novel shares the same title.
An often entertaining but unevenly executed suspense tale.