by Patrick Flanery (Atlantic Books) ISBN: 9781782397960
Paranoia, obsession, fear, and loss of privacy – and even sanity – lie at the heart of this unusual and unnerving thriller.
Jeremy O’Keefe, a professor returning from the UK to his native New York, finds it difficult to adapt to a city radically altered post-9/11. When he believes a young man is following him, his life starts to unravel and nothing is what it seems. A mysterious package arrives; his phone is being monitored. Could there be a link to an affair with a student back in Oxford? The story is told in the first person, so we begin to doubt Jeremy’s paranoia and reliability as a narrator.
The novel explores prickly themes that are all too relevant for us living in a world where our lives are tracked – by video cameras on the street, social media, and government – but where self-examination is something we’re not comfortable with.
Sometimes the book suffers from long dry sentences and dense scholarly paragraphs, which slows down the pace. However, the story and the theme are strong enough for the reader to push through.