When Eric Loesch returns to the small town in upstate New York where he was reared, he dutifully describes life there in meticulous detail: the woman who sells him his dilapidated house and its six hundred and twelve acres, the hardware store he visits, the large outcropping of rock he can see from his bedroom window. And when he discovers that this rock in the center of his view marks a tiny patch of land that is not, legally, his, and that the owner’s name has been blacked out on the property deed, he decides to fill the gap in the official record. Meanwhile, the reader is wrestling with the narrator’s own troubling omissions: Why does Eric hate his sister? Why can he remember so little of his childhood, and why won’t the woman in the hardware store sell him a gun? As Lennon investigates the lethal consequences of failing to question authority, what begins as a claustrophobic tale of suspense gradually becomes an indictment of national policy.
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When it comes to psychological thrillers, even one like Castle
that has literary aspirations, critics invariably judge a book's ability to suspend a reader's disbelief. And why not? While not flawless -- the author's plotting and a creaky backstory sometimes get in the way of a compelling character study, and unpredictable twists threw off some reviewers -- Lennon's latest novel, a weird mÈlange of John Fowles and Silence of the Lambs
, is worth a look. Pay particular attention to descriptions of landscapes and the evolution of the novel's complex, unreliable narrator, a deeply troubled man who realizes, perhaps too late, that "every human interaction was a psychological experiment."