Michael Dibdin’s ingenuity and mastery of style and form have earned him numerous accolades, a devoted readership, and the undisguised envy of his peers. Although he is best known in the United States for his incomparable Aurelio Zen series, it would be an injustice to pigeonhole Dibdin solely as a mystery writer. In each of his novels, he has consistently transcended the mechanics of the mystery at hand to investigate the larger, less neatly solvable mysteries of the human heart and soul.
In Thanksgiving, Dibdin continues to internalize the process of investigation, cleverly subverting genre conventions to create an intensely personal meditation on loss, obsession, erotic desire, and power of the past.
Here, the narrator is an expatriate British journalist, Anthony "Tony" Baines. But it is Tony’s wife, Lucy, who is the novel’s iconic, central figure -- a feat of authorial legerdemain all the more remarkable given that Lucy is recently dead (a casualty of a commercial airline disaster) and appears in the book only through the persistence of memory, and the odd spectral cameo. Bereft of his one great love, denied the promise of their future together, Tony decides to lay claim to the last remaining vestiges of Lucy’s life -- her past.
The trouble is, Lucy’s past doesn’t rightly belong to him. The particulars of Lucy’s Life Before Tony are currently the exclusive property of her first husband, Darryl Bob Allen, a onetime sexual athlete and all-around professional failure whose true calling is audio/video voyeurism. On the pretext of settling Lucy’s estate, Tony heads out to a remote patch of Nevada desert to talk to Darryl Bob. And in the event that Darryl Bob should prove to be less than forthcoming, he brings a gun. Just in case.
Having marshaled the necessary elements -- grief, lust, jealousy, even a convenient "murder" weapon -- Dibdin promptly proceeds to confound expectations. Instead of the murder mystery for which we have been prepared, Thanksgiving reveals itself to be something more ambitious: the story of one man coming to terms with his own past, and his redemption through the undying power of love. (Greg Marrs)