From Publishers Weekly
Freelance writer Redmond Hatch loves his young wife, Catherine—he is 40 and she is 22 when they wed in 1981—and adores his infant daughter, Imogen, but in Irish author McCabe's eighth novel (his prior work included Breakfast on Pluto
and The Butcher Boy
, both shortlisted for the Booker Prize), Redmond's happy slice of the world cruelly crumbles. A few years into wedded bliss, Redmond's wife cuckolds and then divorces him; he feigns suicide, assumes a false identity and disappears into a sad-sack life that spirals sharply downward after he reads a newspaper account of the suicide of convicted child murderer (and creepy acquaintance) Ned Strange: Redmond's suddenly haunted by nightmares and hallucinations in which Ned molests him. He stalks his former family and, in 1991, kidnaps and kills his estranged daughter, burying her in the isolated countryside—their imaginary "winterwood"—and visiting her grave over the next decade. Redmond, however, has yet to bottom out. Despite a fractured, hard-to-follow chronology, this tale about a man's descent into madness is both artfully repellent and hypnotically compelling. (Feb.)
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Creepy. How you feel about this sparsely written Irish story will depend on whether you think creepy
is an attractive or a troubling adjective for a book. In the fall of 1981, Redmond Hatch, an Irish newspaper reporter, returns to his small hometown to write about changing traditions. There he meets a strange fiddler named, appropriately enough, Ned Strange. Strange once knew the orphaned Hatch's parents, and the two men form a troubling relationship. As the novel progresses, Redmond becomes an increasingly unreliable narrator. As events unfold in a nonlinear fashion, a feeling of dread becomes palpable. Like Stephen King's The
Shining, this novel is terrifying in its exploration of what can happen to seemingly ordinary people in bizarre situations. Marta SegalCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved