An experimental novel of obsession and violation that makes Nicholson Baker and Mark Leyner look positively banal.

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THE MORE YOU IGNORE ME

A deeply unreliable narrator takes the form to the next level when he foists himself on the owners of a schlocky wedding blog.

Stalker novels are nothing new in the world of thrillers, but posing one as a shrill, fey experiment in comedy may well be a tough sell for sophomore novelist Nichols (Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder, 2010). The poet-turned-novelist deeply indulges his love of the clipped, erratic style of poetry as well as a penchant for the epistolary device, last seen in the letters that make up his debut. Moving into the Internet age has opened up a new vein of satire for Nichols, who makes not-so-subtle jabs at the twin demons of self-promotion and personal privacy. For starters, his unnamed narrator is batshit crazy—not necessarily a bad thing in characters ranging from Patrick Bateman to Tyler Durden—but his lead’s protracted screeds about conspiracy theories and personal slights quickly become wearying. Our guy, trying to track down a beloved ex, MFL (“My First Love”), spends his days trolling the Web looking for pictures of her. That’s when he unfortunately runs across a picture of Charli Vistons, bride-to-be. He quickly breaks into her public blog at Charlico.com and learns of her impending nuptials to Nico Novtalis, brother to the blog moderator, Chris. Naturally, our stalker’s logic isn’t always easy to follow. “The personal is absolutely political, after all,” he practically seethes. “Of course blog comments in general, dear readers, are revolutionary because they allow for point X, which dilates our triangular perception from simple A, B, and C into the pyramidal realms.” And so on, and on, and on as our lunatic host opines that Chris is trying to pluck his brother’s prize. We also get some background in memories of related adolescent hijinks, but whether readers have the stamina to finish the ride is a fair question.

An experimental novel of obsession and violation that makes Nicholson Baker and Mark Leyner look positively banal.

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56689-321-3

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Coffee House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

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THE BOY FROM THE WOODS

Coben’s latest darkest-suburbs thriller sets a decidedly offbeat detective on the trail of a crime with overtones unmistakably redolent of once and future presidential elections.

Wilde is called Wilde because nobody’s known his real name from the moment a pair of hikers found him foraging for himself in Ramapo Mountain State Forest 24 years ago. Now over 40, he’s had experience as both a lost boy and a private investigator. That makes him an obvious person to help when his godson, Sweet Water High School student Matthew Crimstein, expresses concern to his grandmother, attorney Hester Crimstein, that his bullied classmate Naomi Pine has gone missing. Matthew doesn’t really want anyone to help. He doesn’t even want anyone to notice his agitation. But Hester, taking the time from her criminal defense of financial consultant Simon Greene (Run Away, 2019) to worm the details out of him, asks Wilde to lend a hand, and sure enough, Wilde, unearthing an unsavory backstory that links Naomi to bullying classmate Crash Maynard, whose TV producer father, Dash Maynard, is close friends with reality TV star–turned–presidential hopeful Rusty Eggers, finds Naomi hale and hearty. Everything’s hunky-dory for one week, and then she disappears again. And this time, so does Crash after a brief visit to Matthew in which he tearfully confesses his guilt about the bad stuff he did to Naomi. This second disappearance veers into more obviously criminal territory with the arrival of a ransom note that demands, not money, but the allegedly incriminating videotapes of Rusty Eggers that Dash and Delia Maynard have had squirreled away for 30 years. The tapes link Rusty to a forgotten and forgettable homicide and add a paranoid new ripped-from-the-headlines dimension to the author’s formidable range. Readers who can tune out all the subplots will find the kidnappers easy to spot, but Coben finds room for three climactic surprises, one of them a honey.

Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4814-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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