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Titles Can Be The Hardest Part...,
This review is from: Bedbugs (Paperback)
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The premise of this book is that a married couple and their young daughter move into a surprisingly affordable apartment in New York. Almost from the day they move in, odd things begin to happen, most of which are only apparent to the wife, Susan. The story is told from her point of view. Susan is an aspiring artist who obtained a law degree, apparently at the urgings of her family. She had been employed in a law firm prior to the beginning of the story, but she and her husband agreed she would quit in order to pursue her artistic dreams. Her husband, Alex, put aside his own artistic ambitions to operate a catalog photography business with a partner, in order to support the family. The business is struggling and there is stress in the marriage, especially after the expensive move.
Most of the strange activity in the apartment seems to be centered in a small "bonus" room that Susan uses as an art studio. The sole artwork she produces is a portrait of one of the previous tenants, people she only knows only from a photograph she found. These tenants were a couple who, according to the elderly landlady, vanished without paying their rent. The landlady, who lives downstairs, is accommodating and friendly. The almost equally elderly "handyman" is by turns kindly, threatening, and a bit dull; although he tells Susan he retired as assistant principal at a local school.
Susan comes to believe that the apartment is infested with bedbugs and that she has been bitten. Her husband and her daughter do not see or experience anything. Even when the highly recommended, and slightly oddball, exterminator finds nothing after an extensive examination, Susan continues to insist that the bugs are there. (I need to note somewhere, and it might as well be here, that I didn't find Susan to be an especially sympathetic character, even before her alarming personality change.) The bedbug obsession grows and Susan's grip on reality loosens until the ultimate confrontation with evil near the end of the book.
The first half of this novel was a real page turner, with great atmosphere. Somewhere around the middle, the wheels started to come off. It's hard to explain why I think so, but I just didn't enjoy the second half nearly as much. It seemed forced. Also, in a novel like this, I would expect to be left guessing at the end as to what was real and what was imaginary, or supernatural. This one spelled most of it out. When the mystery was revealed, it rang false to me. I can't explain why without massive spoilers, and I'm not sure I could articulate it anyway.
So, not a terrible book. The author definitely can write. It's a moderately short book (I finished it in an afternoon) and worth a read.