“Sly and satiric . . . Peyton Place in the age of terror and twitter.” Joseph Salvatore, The New York Times Book Review
“Amidon once again displays his unerring facility for sniffing out the shaky foundations of our lives.” Stewart O'Nan, The Washington Post
“Reading Security is a bit like waking up at four in the morning and surveying familiar bedroom objects in--literally--a new light. . . . Good fences may make good neighbors, but bad neighbors make better novels.” Molly Young, The New York Observer
“A gripping account of scandal and fear in outer suburbia.” Financial Times
“With his dry ironies and his skill in probing beneath the comfortable veneer of his characters' lives, Amidon tells us more than many writers with greater pretensions. . . . Beneath the surface of his subtle and absorbing narrative lurk paranoia and the refusal to face up to disquieting truths.” Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times (London)
“A gripping, troubling, and incisive portrait of the way we live now . . . Has the ambitious sweep and narrative power of a nineteenth-century novel.” Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children on Human Capital
“Like Rosellen Brown's Before and After and Scott Spencer's Endless Love, Human Capital grounds [its] plot in meticulously observed social details, its relentless pacing in some shrewd psychological insights. And Mr. Amidon proves himself a nimble storyteller, providing the reader with a solid, literate and consistently compelling tale.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times on Human Capital
“Amidon's novel is a wonderfully wicked satire on a twenty-first-century gilded age . . . His book is more than just one family's story. It's a portrait of a whole society caught in a dead end that everyone insists will lead somewhere after all.” Michael Shelden, Chicago Tribune on Human Capital
“Amidon has achieved the rare alchemy of creating a novel charged with suspense from the lives of ordinary suburban families; it's also an unflinching social commentary that has the potential to endure as a clear and literate portrait of its time.” Stephanie Merritt, The Observer (London) on Human Capital
Despite the improbable endgame and an over-reliance on types among his supporting castthe preoccupied wife, the creepy snob, the sullen teenthe novel succeeds as an entertainment. It's well-paced and always engaging, if occasionally broad. Thematically, like any good satire, it presents a cautionary tale and dares us to find ourselves in it, and because Amidon is such a fine writer, we do. As in Human Capital, he once again displays his unerring facility for sniffing out the shaky foundations of our lives, showing us what we will selfishly renouncetrust, intimacy, integrity, realityto achieve what we believe is an impregnable security.
The Washington Post
…sly and satiric…Think of it as Peyton Place in the age of terror and Twitter.
The New York Times
An anatomist of contemporary American anomie, Amidon (Human Capital) follows, in this skillfully executed if not quite devastating novel, the serpentine events surrounding an alleged sexual assault in a sleepy Massachusetts college town. Edward Inman runs a security company and one night is called to the mansion of Doyle Cutler, a wealthy client. Later, college student Mary Steckl accuses Cutler of sexually abusing her at his home that evening. The police and the locals assume she's covering for her father, a widower whose heavy drinking has gotten him in trouble with the law before. Mary's plight quickly envelops others, including her classmate, Angela, who is sleeping with her English professor, a guest at the Cutler mansion on the night in question; Kathryn, a divorcée who embarks on an affair with an old love whose wife is running for mayor; and Conor, Kathryn's troubled son and the only witness to what really happened to Mary. The reader stands by for the human catastrophe that will inevitably ensue, but despite its nuanced depiction of smalltown life and propulsive plotting, the novel fails to achieve a truly tragic dimension. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In this compelling and complexly plotted tale, disparate elements in a quiet western Massachusetts college town come together uncomfortably after a young woman is sexually assaulted. When Mount Stoneleigh college student Mary Steckl claims to have been assaulted by someone at the home of Doyle Cutler, one of the town's most prominent if secretive citizens, one of his employees, Conor Williams, is suspected. Also under suspicion is English professor Stuart Symes, who had been there that night, and whose lover, Angela, is in the same advanced-writing seminar as Mary. As security company owner Edward Inman learns more about the incident, his suspicion shifts to the well-connected Cutler, who attempts to divert the focus to Mary's father, Walt Steckl, a disabled electrician who had been earlier convicted (wrongfully, he believes) of molesting Inman's son. Meanwhile, Steckl's attempt to obtain the justice he feels he is being denied drives him toward a devastating act. This powerful and riveting novel from the author of Human Capital is highly recommended for all public libraries.
In Amidon's sixth novel (Human Capital, 2004, etc.), various story lines converge to yield a small-town melodrama. Stoneleigh is a picturesque college town in western Massachusetts, but its inhabitants are beset with problems. Strong, decent Edward Inman, owner of a security company, is stuck in a loveless marriage to ambitious Meg, a selectman running for mayor, but he yearns for Kathryn, his old sweetheart. The equally decent Kathryn, abandoned by her flaky husband, is struggling to raise her two sons; 19-year-old Conor has become a sullen stranger. In worse shape is Walt Steckl, widower and electrician, hooked on pills and booze after a work-related accident. Though innocent, he's had two run-ins with the law, adding tension to his relationship with daughter Mary, a college student who attends the same nonfiction workshop as Angela, who's had a torrid summer-long affair with their cool professor Stuart (divorced). Amidon's poorly structured novel is top-heavy with exposition. Where's it all heading? Oddly enough, to one of the town's richest men, Doyle Cutler, a colorless creep who's made a fortune in the debt-consolidation business. Why does the unemployed Conor have a bottle of expensive French wine in his room? The answer is Cutler. Why is Stuart suddenly avoiding Angela? Again, the answer is Cutler. Everything comes to a head when Walt, in a drunken stupor, finds his traumatized daughter curled up on his kitchen floor. She had been at Cutler's house, along with Conor and Stuart, and left with a damaged shoulder. Was there an attempted rape? Amidon undercuts the suspense by lingering on the pain of his other victims, hapless Walt and deluded Angela, while ignoring Cutler, the primemover. The other story line-the resumption of Edward and Kathryn's love affair-is sidelined after a considerable build-up. The violent ending is really no ending since Cutler, astonishingly, is out of the picture. Amidon's strength, a gritty realism, is sacrificed to a never-believable morality tale about the power of money to corrupt.