In four previous novels, Jack O'Connell has established a reputation as an author of literary-suspense and thriller-noir. This time, with The Resurrectionist
, he has consolidated and surpassed that reputation with a story so mesmerizing that the reader can't figure out what is real and what's imaginary, what is threatening and what is make-believe.
The wraparound story in this multi-layered tale is about Sweeney, a pharmacist by trade, and his young son, Danny, the victim of an accident that has left him in a coma. Sweeney moves Danny to a hospital specializing in comatose patients, the Peck Clinic. The Doctors Peck, father and daughter, claim to have "resurrected" two patients from the void of deep coma. Prior to Danny's accident, he and Sweeney had been reading a fantasy series of comic books called Limbo, and it is around these stories that things get really interesting. There are circus freaks, weird stunts, an apparent "resurrection" or two, a long odyssey in search of a lost father--any number of plot lines and characters overlapping between what is real in Sweeney's life, and what might be a dream or drugged reality, and what is storybook fiction.
Alongside all the strange and convoluted events of the novel there is a compelling meditation on the power of story, the meaning of madness and sanity and the very nature of consciousness. This is more than fantasy; it is a masterful and wholly imaginative invention based on the sad reality of a father and son trying to find one another again. --Valerie Ryan
From Publishers Weekly
Two worlds wrapped tight in gloomy gothic trappings vie for dominance in this engrossing, elaborately staged exploration of consciousness from O'Connell (The Skin Palace
). Sweeney, an Ohio pharmacist, brings his comatose son, Danny, to the Peck Clinic, "a sandstone monster on fifty acres of private land near Quinsigamond's western border." Danny is all Sweeney lives for; he even studies the comic book Limbo
, featuring a troupe of circus freaks led by the visionary Chick the chicken boy, for what his son may have imagined when his brain functioned normally. Like Stephen King in Richard Bachman mode, O'Connell digs for darkness as Chick and his companions, who inhabit the fantasy realm of Gehenna, encounter Dr. Lazarus Cole, "The Resurrectionist" (stoned to death only to walk again) and dread the inevitable showdown with their nemesis, "the mad doctor called Fliess," in his "enormous laboratory castle, the Black Iron Clinic." Meanwhile, in the real world, cultists kidnap Sweeney in hopes of using fluid from Danny's brain to transport them all to Gehenna. This strange brew is sure to enhance O'Connell's growing cult status. (Apr.)
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