An ingenious debut, largely talk, follows a moral and spiritual light as it rises out of darkness in a mental hospital.
For the past year, Tory Troy has worked in the Waterbridge Animal Shelter in Connecticut, euthanizing animals in its gas chamber every Friday afternoon. Fired from a pharmaceuticals company that replaced salespeople with the Internet, Tory stole some drugs as she left. One is a paralytic given by needle that leaves the recipient stiff but awake. Something goes wrong with Tory, who seems to have no personal life. Apparently overwhelmed by her moral revulsion for what she knows is a necessary job, she sneaks up on six fellow workers one by one, paralyzes them, hauls them (fully conscious) off to the gas chamber and kills them. The story takes place in the mental hospital where Tory’s defense lawyer interviews her, as does a psychiatrist hired by the court to see whether she’s mentally capable of standing trial. Other “dialogues” ensue with her mother and father, the district attorney, the presiding judge and later the jury. Also here: the trial transcript, as well as a strong short story and novella written by Tory, a high-IQ member of Mensa. But the main dialogue takes place between Tory and psychiatrist Dr. Baraku Bexley, who looks into her past with her. The central question for the reader is what went wrong in Tory’s mind to have her kill six innocent fellow workers. The killer herself doesn’t know—but at least in the death house she finally has time to read Ulysses.
Sucks you in, then delivers a wildly weird and unforeseeable ending.