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Posted February 14, 2013
Chris Knopf has written nine previous mysteries, including two different series [both set in the Hamptons] and one standalone. His newest novel is the first in a new series, featuring 42-year-old Arthur Cathcart [although he seldom uses that name after the events the kick off the book]. And “kick” is an appropriate word here, inasmuch as the first chapter describes a scene wherein Arthur [self-described as a “math geek and social misfit”] and his “breathtakingly beautiful and successful” wife, Florencia, are held at gunpoint in their home in Stamford, Connecticut, by a man they have never seen before, who shortly shoots them both in the head. Florencia is killed instantly; Arthur is grievously wounded and left for dead. After falling in and out of a coma for months, he is almost literally brought back from the dead, and makes a decision not to let the world in on that fact, convincing his physician sister, who has been caring for him, to fake his death.
Using the skills of his professional - - he holds a Masters in Applied Mathematics, doing freelance market research - - he is determined to find out who brutally murdered his adored wife and left him for dead, and why: “I’m dead anyway, so who’s better suited to the job?” He goes completely off the grid, difficult to do in this day and age. Using the skills perfected by identity thieves, which he “hoped to successfully emulate,” he begins to feel that “the concept of identity has become an abstraction,” to the extent that at times he barely remembers who he really is.
The writing is wonderful throughout. On the first page, as he and his wife rise from bed shortly after their morning love-making, Arthur thinks of the day ahead with “that part of my mind that wasn’t lingering with recollections of the morning, the smells and feel of skin-on-skin, the transcendent lightness of unrestrained adoration.” At one point he says that “the most important thing I’d learned from years of research was that almost nothing you thought in advance turns out to be the case . . . It means that most people who aren’t researchers go through life thinking things that aren’t true, and never discovering their folly.”
The plotting is ingenious, the book captivating. At the end, the author gives a hint of the direction in which he will go in the next book in this series, and I for one can’t wait. Highly recommended.
Posted August 15, 2013
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