From Publishers Weekly
A deliriously mordant political satire, Walter's follow-up to 2005's critically acclaimed Citizen Vince
begins moments after New York City cop Brian Remy shoots himself in the head. He isn't seriously wounded, and he can't remember doing it. It's less than a week after 9/11, and Brian serves as an official guide for celebrities who want a tour of "The Zero." With stitches still in his scalp, Brian is tapped for a job with the Documentation Department, a shadowy subagency of the Office of Liberty and Recovery, which is charged with scrutinizing every confetti scrap of paper blown across the city when the towers fell. As he learns the truth about his new employer's mission (think: recent NSA-related headlines) and becomes enmeshed in a sinister government plot, he finds an unseemly benefactor in "The Boss," the unnamed mayor who cashes in on his sudden national prominence. Meanwhile, Brian's cop and firemen colleagues shill for "First Responder" cereal, his rebellious teenage son acts as if Brian died in the attack and the president provides comic background sound bites ("draw your strength from the collective courage and resilientness"). Walter's Helleresque take on a traumatic time may be too much too soon for some, but he carries off his dark and hilarious narrative with a grandly grotesque imagination. 100,000announced first printing; 12-city author tour.(Sept.)
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*Starred Review* Numerous thrillers have drawn on 9/11, but most have used those all-too-horrific events only as a frame. Walter digs deeper. This discombobulating but remarkably imaginative novel never names bin Laden or even the date, but we know where we are. Bits of paper from the explosions continue to rain down from the sky, and rescue workers continue to look for bodies at Ground Zero (or, the Zero, as the cops and firefighters who were there refer to it). One of those cops, Brian Remy, opens the novel by shooting himself in the head. But, minutes later, he can't remember doing it. Remy suffers from what he calls "gaps"--memory lapses in which he has no idea why he is doing what he's doing. These gaps are the main narrative device in the novel, and they take some getting used to, as the reader is every bit as affected by the blackouts as Remy. Gradually, both character and reader begin to piece things together: Remy has been hired by the "Boss" to lead a secret "documentation recovery" effort aimed at finding a link between the terrorists and a woman working in one of the towers. But to what end? Even in his lucid moments, Remy doesn't understand his assignment, which seems to have something to do with "applying models of randomness to the patterns in paper burns." There is plenty of stinging political satire here, but beyond that, Walter has taken the terrorist thriller into new territory, mixing the surreal cityscape of Blade Runner
with a touch of Kafka and coming up with what may be the perfect metaphor for the way we experience today's world. Like Remy, we suffer from gaps whenever we watch the news or try to make sense of international affairs: randomness reigns. This isn't a perfect novel, but it takes a game shot at re-creating the emotional reality of the post-9/11 world. Bill OttCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved