Threats: A Novel

Threats: A Novel

2.9 11
by Amelia Gray
     
 

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David's wife is dead. At least, he thinks she's dead. But he can't figure out what killed her or why she had to die, and his efforts to sort out what's happened have been interrupted by his discovery of a series of elaborate and escalating threats hidden in strange places around his home--one buried in the sugar bag, another carved into the side of his television.

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Overview

David's wife is dead. At least, he thinks she's dead. But he can't figure out what killed her or why she had to die, and his efforts to sort out what's happened have been interrupted by his discovery of a series of elaborate and escalating threats hidden in strange places around his home--one buried in the sugar bag, another carved into the side of his television. These disturbing threats may be the best clues to his wife's death:

CURL UP ON MY LAP. LET ME BRUSH YOUR HAIR WITH MY FINGERS. I AM SINGING YOU A LULLABY. I AM TESTING FOR STRUCTURAL WEAKNESS IN YOUR SKULL.

Detective Chico is also on the case, and is intent on asking David questions he doesn't know the answers to and introducing him to people who don't appear to have David's or his wife's best interests in mind. With no one to trust, David is forced to rely on his own memories and faculties--but they too are proving unreliable.
In THREATS, Amelia Gray builds a world that is bizarre yet familiar, violent yet tender. It is an electrifying story of love and loss that grabs you on the first page and never loosens its grip.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
David, a former dentist, receives a package containing the ashes of an unknown individual; later in the book, he encounters his wife, Franny, covered in blood, and he passes out. Thinking Franny has been murdered, afraid to leave his house and unable to piece together what is happening in his ruined life, David begins to lose his mind, a deterioration helped along by mysterious scraps of paper found throughout his house and the neighborhood bearing bizarre messages (“MY TRUTH WILL CAUSE ATOMIC SNOW UPON YOUR SWEET-SMELLING LAMBS AND CHILDREN”). In time, friends and strangers arrive, at random, with what David presumes to be nefarious intentions, and the unannounced comings and goings of ominous Det. Reginald Chico further unsettle David. David’s life becomes increasingly weird as he wanders his now unfamiliar home, struggling to tease out the details of his past life and whether his wife is dead with what little is left of his fractured mind. The book is a series of short, disjointed, and unchronological chapters. The story can seem labyrinthine at times, but the narrative arc acts as a clever reflection of David’s own developing mental illness. Gradually, as with any good detective novel, the pieces come together. What would have seemed gimmicky in the hands of a less skilled writer becomes a cunning whodunit with Gray (Museum of the Weird) at the reins. This is an innovative debut novel featuring a most unreliable (and compelling) narrator. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
A man struggles to deal with the death of his wife and the odd messages that appear in her wake. Gray's debut novel—following two short-story collections (Museum of the Weird, 2010, etc.)—feels like an old-fashioned gothic tale as rewritten by David Lynch or William S. Burroughs; in her hands an unassuming Ohio town becomes a bottomless repository of strangeness and dread. The hero, David, is a disgraced former dentist who attracts police and media attention after his wife, Franny, is discovered dead in their home under unsettling circumstances: She suffered violent wounds, but David did nothing, staying with her corpse until the authorities arrived days later. David is clearly broken mentally, and he grows more paranoid as he discovers vaguely threatening messages on scraps of paper hidden around their home. (A typical one reads: "I will cross-stitch an image of your future home burning. I will hang this image over your bed while you sleep.") David's efforts to resolve the mystery involve a local cop, one of Franny's former co-workers and a regression therapist who happens to work out of David's garage. But resolution isn't really the point, nor is realism. This book is a mood piece about loss and the way the outside world becomes intimidating after an emotional anchor disappears. In that regard, it's often a very affecting and disturbing book: Gray regularly refers to wasps in the garage, Franny's ashes and a damp decaying house to evoke disorder and collapse, and her deliberately flat and unaffected sentences increase the tension. The book falters toward the end, as Gray tries to balance the oddness of her milieu with a sense of closure, making for a conclusion that doesn't feel ambiguous so much as unfinished. Still, a striking debut novel from a writer eager to shake domestic fiction out of its comfort zone.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466801509
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
160,162
File size:
0 MB

Meet the Author

AMELIA GRAY grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Her first collection of stories, AM/PM, was published in 2009. Her second collection, Museum of the Weird, was awarded the Ronald Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize. She lives in Los Angeles. THREATS is her first novel..


Amelia Gray grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Her first collection of stories, AM/PM, was published in 2009. Her second collection, Museum of the Weird, was awarded the Ronald Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize. She is the author of the novel Threats. She lives in Los Angeles.

Read an Excerpt

1.

 
THE TAPE ON THE PACKAGE was striped with waxed string. David dug his fingernails underneath the perimeter of the tape and clawed at it. He didn’t want to go to the kitchen for a knife, and he spent an extra piece of time examining the entire package to find the loose end that could be pulled up. Inside the package was a Styrofoam carton, sealed with another kind of thick tape. A receipt was attached to the top of the lid, noting a cremation charge of $795, a box charge of $25, and a shipping charge of $20.95.
The package measured a few feet square. It was pockmarked with red stickers printed with the image of a broken wineglass. The return address was of a funeral home in town. David placed the package on the coffee table between Franny’s cooking magazines and a stack of old newspapers. Some of the crosswords in the newspapers had been completed weeks earlier, perhaps months. Franny would read the news, and David would complete the crosswords. David took the newspapers into the basement and stacked them in a far corner.

 
Copyright © 2012 by Amelia Gray

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