MAN AND WIFE
A tinted review in adult Forecasts indicates a book that's of paramount importance to our readers but hasn't received a starred or boxed review.
The two Edgars Klavan owns testify to his excellence at thrillers. True Crime; Don't Say a Word; most recently, Hunting Down Amanda—he has yet to write a disappointing novel. His newest, too, will please his fans, but it's not his strongest. Psychiatrist Cal Bradley has a perfect life: a great job as head of a psychiatric institute in the New England town his eminent family has called home for generations; two nice kids; and, most important, a wonderful marriage to sweet Marie. Then Peter Blue shows up. Peter, 19, from a poor family, has been arrested for setting fire to a church and for pulling a gun on a cop. A word from Cal's priest, who believes that Peter exhibits an eerie spiritual aura, convinces Cal to evaluate the boy. Cal learns that Peter is indeed intimately connected to God, but also that he harbors hidden, perhaps homicidal, anger, directed partly toward a malevolent stranger in town—who one day Cal sees talking to Marie in the woods. But Marie denies the encounter and continues to lie to Cal even as he uncovers incriminating secrets about her past, and even as the stranger's corpse surfaces in a nearby lake. Who killed him? The plotting of this novel is less clever, and the suspense less intense, than in previous Klavans. Even so, the author makes expert use of first-person narration to bond the reader to Cal's suspicions, and then to his complicity in sin; strong supporting characters vivify the smalltown setting. And the book's spiritual slant is unusual, and welcome, in a thriller. This is a minor gem from a major talent, a book that every Klavan fan will want but that won't expand the author's already wide readership. (Nov.)