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Now You See Him

Now You See Him

4.5 6
by Eli Gottlieb

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His name was Rob Castor. Quite possibly, you've heard of him. He became a minor cult celebrity in his early twenties for writing a book of darkly pitch-perfect stories set in a stupid upstate New York town. About a dozen years later, he murdered his writer-girlfriend and committed suicide. . . .

The deaths of Rob Castor and his


His name was Rob Castor. Quite possibly, you've heard of him. He became a minor cult celebrity in his early twenties for writing a book of darkly pitch-perfect stories set in a stupid upstate New York town. About a dozen years later, he murdered his writer-girlfriend and committed suicide. . . .

The deaths of Rob Castor and his girlfriend begin a wrenching and enthrallingly suspenseful story that mines the explosive terrains of love and paternity, marriage and its delicate intricacies, family secrets and how they fester over time, and ultimately the true nature of loyalty and trust, friendship and envy, deception and manipulation.

As the media takes hold of this sensational crime, a series of unexpected revelations unleashes hidden truths in the lives of those closest to Rob. At the center of this driving narrative is Rob's childhood best friend, Nick Framingham, whose ten-year marriage to his college sweetheart is faltering. Shocked by Rob's death, Nick begins to reevaluate his own life and his past, and as he does so, a fault line opens up beneath him, leading him all the way to the novel's startling conclusion.

In this ambitious and thrilling novel, award-winning author Eli Gottlieb—with extraordinarily luxuriant and evocative prose—takes us deep into the human psyche, where the most profound of secrets are kept.

Editorial Reviews

Danielle Trussoni
Despite Nick's flaws, he succeeds in placing the intensity of male friendship at the heart of his story. The grief he and the other roadies feel is moving, as is his continuing loyalty to his dead friend. The reader's interest is snared and held by Nick's refusal to forget Rob's troubled life, his persistence in wondering how his friend could be driven to such violence…Nick doesn't answer the most interesting questions about Rob. What he does do, though—and remarkably well—is present a heartfelt picture of enduring friendship and inconsolable, debilitating grief, even if that grief is complicated by jaw-dropping revelations as the novel draws to a close.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

A mesmerizing blend of suspense and long-buried family secrets, Gottlieb's second novel (after 1997's The Boy Who Went Away) culminates in shocking revelations that rock a quiet upstate New York town. Nick Framingham is still reeling from the recent death of his childhood best friend, the writer Rob Castor, who committed suicide after killing his ex-girlfriend in Manhattan. Nick's own marriage to his college sweetheart, Lucy, begins to unravel as he struggles to understand what drove Rob to murder. Rekindling an old relationship with his first love, Belinda, Rob's volatile and beautiful sister, Nick begins to retrace not only Rob's last days but also their shared childhood, looking for clues to explain his friend's actions. Gottlieb skillfully ratchets up the suspense by doling out the details of Rob's death in bits and pieces, until everything falls into place in a startling conclusion that will rattle even the genre's most experienced readers. With his pitch-perfect dialogue and flawed yet empathetic characters, Gottlieb's sophomore effort should win him widespread recognition. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
A midlife crisis in upstate New York. For plump, balding, 30-something Nick Framingham, with his "teetering marriage and dead-end job," things really start to unravel after his childhood friend Rob Castor, a successful but blocked writer, murders his girlfriend Kate, then commits suicide. Nick, the narrator of Gottlieb's second novel (The Boy Who Went Away, 1996) is a man of seemingly limited appeal-a self-proclaimed dork at school; distant with his wife Lucy and two sons; and out of touch with his emotionally cool parents, who seemed to love his brother (killed in a car crash) more. Now, despite Lucy's increasingly pointed warnings that their marriage is at risk, he seems happy to commit adultery with his old flame, Rob's sexpot sister, when she returns to Monarch, the small town where they all grew up. While drifting further from Lucy (whom he claims to love) and his children (whom he accuses Lucy of wooing away from him), Nick talks to his own aging parents, then Rob's poisonous mother, whose suggestion that he is illegitimate might explain his parents' lesser love for him. Two secrets are finally exposed, one which causes Nick to redefine himself, the other intended to explain his emotional torpor-although neither halts his downward slide. Sensational revelations arrive too late to enliven a smoothly written but sluggish and morose tale.

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Read an Excerpt

Now You See Him
A Novel

Chapter One

At this late date, would it be fair to say that people, after a fashion, have come to doubt the building blocks of life itself? That we suspect our food? That we fear our children? And that as a result we live individually today atop pyramids of defensive irony, squinched into the tiny pointed place on the top and looking balefully out at the landscape below? In such a time of dark views and darker diagnoses, I'll forestall all second-guessing and declare it up front: I loved him. I'd grown up across the street from him. In my own way, I worshipped him. With the slavish adoration of a child, I'd tried briefly to be him. Although we were both boys the same age and although we chaffed and teased each other constantly, below it all ran an awareness on my part that there was always something quicksilvery, musical, more sharply drawn about him that set him apart from the rest of us.

His name was Rob Castor. Quite possibly, you've heard of him. He became a minor cult celebrity in his mid­twenties for writing a book of darkly pitch-perfect stories set in a stupid sleepy upstate New York town. Several years later, he murdered Kate Pierce, his writer girlfriend, and then committed suicide, causing the hot lights of the media to come on with an audible whoosh, and stay there, focused on his life, the town of his birth and, by default, we his friends and neighbors. In truth, it was fascinating, in a somewhat repulsive way, to watch how a lone wire­service story spilled outward, and the newsweeklies picked it up, and then, when it hit television, everything exploded in a bright and twinkling cloud ofcoverage. In the control rooms of America, apparently, they'd made the collective decision: this is the one. So within six days of the event, TV people were driving up from Manhattan and bivouacking in the Dorset Hotel, along with the big trucks with their sleek antennas and dishes, the over-made-up on-camera host women and anchormen looking all of them like something struck from the Stone Phillips mold and oozing a special kind of major-market insincerity.

For those of us who were his friends, even if we hadn't been in touch with him much these last years, there was the inevitable shock, followed by the inevitable (in my case) sorrow. For the rest of us in town, it was more about the transforming wave that ran through us on the heels of the media attention: that hot bolt of change that left us keenly aware of the way our bodies and faces might look in the rare air of television. By default, it seemed, we'd all become actors on a reality show dedicated to showing the rotten underbelly of innocent American small-town life. Except there was no rotten underbelly. This wasn't Columbine High School. This wasn't that sandy sad place where poor David Koresh preached and died. This was Monarch, New York, a trim, proud little town on a hill far enough away from the major urban centers that people still pause a second to consider before they speak.

But no matter. The weather was turning crisp, the apples had already swelled, reddened, and fallen from the trees, and suddenly too many of us were outside braving the cold while wandering the streets of the town in pretend idleness, hoping to be on the nightly news. It was undignified to see Major Wilkinson, our World War II vet and a man rumored to have squirreled away millions in silver coins, buying a whole new wardrobe (at eighty-five years of age!) and posing in a photo op each morning at the entrance to the Krispy Kreme like a Wal-Mart greeter gone mad. Old diaries and dusty storage boxes were ransacked for sellable artifacts, and there was a kind of unspoken lottery that was won by Hilary Margold, who unearthed a tattered browning piece of paper with Rob's unmistakable high school penmanship forming the words "question authority." It was authenticated, publicized in the local press, and in tribute to the perennial American hunger for morbid memorabilia, ended up on eBay, where it went for a pretty sum. All of us, whether we'd known Rob personally or not, walked around with a strange lifted feeling, like a freshening wind was blowing, and maybe that wind would bring something live and new into our lives.

For my part I participated in almost none of it. I was stunned by his death, and then doubly shocked by the extent of the pain it brought with it—a sharp piercing ache in a private place, way up inside, that hadn't been touched in years.

Now You See Him
A Novel
. Copyright © by Eli Gottlieb. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Eli Gottlieb's New York Times Notable Book, The Boy Who Went Away, won the Rome Prize and the 1998 McKitterick Prize from the British Society of Authors. His second novel, Now You See Him, has been translated into eleven languages. He lives in New York City.www.eligottlieb.com

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Now You See Him 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to be passed an advanced reader's copy of Eli Gottlieb's 'Now You See Him.' I have not seen a literary novel of this caliber in quite some time. I was completely captivated by the layering of deft prose over such a compelling narrative and, though I wanted to slowly savor each pitch perfect sentence, ended up staying up half the night because I literally couldn't put the book down, another rarity for this reader (my literary friends had similar insomniac experiences). I found the characters, especially Nick, the protagonist, and his wife Lucy, sympathetic not for their affability, wholesomeness, or upstanding morals, but for the simple fact that they, unlike the characters of so many novels, are real. Their problems are not pretty but they are deeply, essentially human and as a result are all the more enthrallingly believable. It's so much easier to root for the character that does no wrong, but what impresses me is the novelist's courage in offering us people who aren't the biggest or the best, and who don't always do the right thing. The book is heartbreakingly steeped in reality with a capital R, fulfilling the immemorial mandate of literature: to bear witness and to offer us a mirror not in which to see an idealized version of ourselves but that reality which includes us in our often tragic entirety, warts and all. Though the plot is intensely gripping and fast-paced, this is not the sort of approach that every reader, especially those accustomed to packaged genre thrillers or escapist fiction, will necessarily be able to appreciate. Much like American cinema, American media, and Coca Cola, novels coming out of the U.S. tend to have no-stone-unturned endings, sugar coated with feel-good 'awakenings,' charismatic insights and perfectly knit finales designed to appease our unrefined palate. For me, the joy of literature, and I'm talking bona fide literature--is the way in which it exposes the wellsprings of motive, and in doing so, shows us just how authentically 'human' human is.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Manhattan, writer Rob Castor could have starred in one of his tales when he kills his girlfriend and himself in a murder suicide. The media goes manic with the deaths of two writers especially since Rob is a cult favorite for his dark tales and ¿experts¿ search for clues to this tragedy. His childhood best friend Nick Framingham is stunned when he hears the news and needs to know why over the objection of his wife. Nick visits Rob¿s sister Belinda to offer his condolences and to also learn more about Rob¿s final days especially his relationship with the woman he murdered. Seeing Belinda reminds Rob how much he desired her even as his own marriage is apparently tanking. Still he looks back at their childhood for clues and tries to track Rob¿s final days to seek an explanation as he like Belinda need closure instead he finds each step he takes seems to bring him deeper into an abyss. --- This is an exciting thriller as Nick struggles to learn why, but also begins to realize the roots of the tragedy lies in their childhoods. Readers will empathize with Nick and his need for closure his way. However the key to this superb suspense story is the slow revelations that ultimately tie together in an incredible ending. --- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall it was interesting and kept my interest.
ClarkP More than 1 year ago
Now You See Him exceeded my expectations. I saw this book at the store and just took a chance on it, not expecting too much. All I can say is that I am glad that I took that chance, because this book delivers the goods. Eli Gottlieb took his time on this one, each sentence seems to be perfectly constructed. The story itself was amazing, the revelation at the end of the book was brilliant. This book is comparable to the work of Douglas Coupland, which is a compliment to Gottlieb. I cannot say enough positive things about this book. Try it, you won¿t regret it. A+ for Now You See Him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cecile More than 1 year ago
The story moves quickly, and I found myself wanting to know what was happening next. The author skips between past and present with ease. The book certainly makes one look at human nature and all the influences that make us what we are. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in "life as we know it".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago