Complication

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Overview

A serial killer with a penchant for severed hands. A watch that runs backward and forward ? at the same time. An Eastern European gangster known only as Rumplestiltskin. The Nazi invasion of Prague, Soviet-era Czech secret police, 16th century alchemy and black magic ? mild-mannered American Lee Holloway never thought any of these would intrude upon his ordinary life.

But that was before he received a mysterious letter from a woman named Vera, a cryptic missive implying Lee?s ...

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Complication: A Novel

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Overview

A serial killer with a penchant for severed hands. A watch that runs backward and forward – at the same time. An Eastern European gangster known only as Rumplestiltskin. The Nazi invasion of Prague, Soviet-era Czech secret police, 16th century alchemy and black magic – mild-mannered American Lee Holloway never thought any of these would intrude upon his ordinary life.

But that was before he received a mysterious letter from a woman named Vera, a cryptic missive implying Lee’s estranged brother Paul, who disappeared years ago in Prague, was actually murdered in an attempt to steal The Rudolf Complication, a priceless watch commissioned by the eccentric Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, rumored to hold the power of eternal life. When Lee goes to Prague to investigate, his involvement with the enigmatic Vera, as well as the guidance offered from a mysterious travel book, triggers a series of violent and bizarre events that force Lee to confront disturbing truths about his brother as well as himself. Unless Lee can reconstruct the final hours of his brother's life, and separate truth from myth in this haunted city, he might not get out of Prague alive.

Complication is a twisted, mind-bending, contemporary thrill ride– in the spirit of such mind-bending narratives as House of Leaves and Memento.–set in the dark heart of Europe, a place where old ghosts and ancient legends still walk the streets.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A mysterious missive propels Lee Holloway on a bizarre journey from Chicago to Prague in Adamson’s atmospheric and satisfyingly twisted tale. Following his father’s death, Lee finds a letter from a woman named Vera who doubts the circumstances of Lee’s younger brother Paul’s death five years earlier. She promises in writing to reveal the mystery at a Prague café. On impulse, Lee flies to Prague and meets the shady Vera at a dark place called the Black Rabbit. Vera believes that Paul was murdered for helping steal a magical centuries-old watch known as the Rudolf Complication. Made by an alchemist, the watch ran both forwards and backwards and supposedly granted its wearer eternal life. Not long after, Lee is approached by a crusty ex-detective, Zdenek Soros, a man convinced that Paul’s murder is connected to a notorious serial killer known as the Right Hand of God. Woven into Lee’s attempts to discover the truth about his brother’s death—and life—are interconnected stories that form the history of the Rudolf Complication itself, as much a character as any person in the book. The plot could easily have collapsed under the weight of its own complexity, but Adamson (Tokyo Suckerpunch) pulls it off with style and a whopper of a twist. Agent: Jason Allen Ashlock, Movable Type Literary Group. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Prague is the setting for this unusual meta-mystery, in which an American's investigation of his older brother's disappearance occasions stories-within-stories involving Nazi occupiers, Communist spies, a gangster known as Rumpelstiltskin and a still-ticking watch that goes back to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. Sorting through his recently deceased father's effects, Chicago debt collector Lee Holloway finds a letter from a Czech woman named Vera saying she needs to talk to him about his son Paul, who disappeared years ago. Though it was reported that he drowned in a flood, she writes, he was in fact murdered. At the shadowy Black Rabbit bar in Prague, the frail, elusive Vera tells Lee his brother was involved in a plot to steal from an art gallery the Rudolf Complication, a legendary watch commissioned by Rudolf II. An accomplice, she said, killed Paul. Into the underground of the city, and European history, Lee goes, tour book in hand, eventually crossing paths with an American writer with the meaningfully palindromic name Hannah and a former Czech detective with sinister airs. Jutting into the main narrative are flashbacks and side stories including the anguished first-person confessions of a jeweler in Nazi-occupied Prague who discovers the watch he is repairing is the miraculous watch and the tale of the resurrected suicide who created the watch that wasn't a watch because, like victims of the serial killer loose in Prague, it's missing hands. Adams, author of the punk-noir Billy Chaka series (Tokyo Suckerpunch, 2000, etc.), blends the Czech magic realism of Milan Kundera and American gumshoe fiction with an admirably light hand. The asides sometimes prove distracting or unnecessary, but the parts add up to a satisfying whole. A freshly imagined work, this novel boasts clever twists and revelations right up until the end.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593764326
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/10/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 974,859
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Isaac Adamson is the author of Tokyo Suckerpunch and other books in the Billy Chaka mystery series. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two children. He doesn't own a watch.

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