Monday, December 24, 2007

#80 - Now You See Him

Eli Gottlieb's new novel Now You See Him, which I read in ARC format, comes with a note from the publisher that says, "I simply 'couldn't put it down' -- and you won't be able to either." And while I would agree that it's a literary page-turner, an elusive form of the popular novel that's so hard to get right (see Laura Lippman's excellent What the Dead Know as an almost perfect example), I'm not sure it's 100% effective all the way through.

The first two-thirds of the novel, where it deals with the untimely murder-suicide of Rob Castor, a writer from Monarch, New York who killed his ex-girlfriend, Kate Pierce, before taking his own life, are quite good. Told from the perspective of Rob's best friend Nick Framingham, whose having a hell of a time reconciling the absence of such a fury of a man from his life, the novel unravels layers and layers of untold stories, family secrets and hints to the obsessive nature of the crime. The novel rips along and I was quite taken by Nick's mid-life crisis.

But somewhere in the middle it gets kind of lost, and sort of muddled. There are obvious influences on Gottlieb's novel, namely John Irving, and if you're a fan of the former than I have no doubt that you'd enjoy this novel. While I read the novel primarily in transit back and forth from work, it never grabbed me the way I thought it would, despite the quality of Gottlieb's prose. And by the end, I have to admit, that I was rolling my eyes at certain plot twists towards the end, but that's no comment on the novel, but rather my own cynical nature. We're offering the book up in our Facebook group later next month, so I'll be curious to see what other people think too.

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