THE NINTH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX
Louis Drax isn't like other children. The morbidly imaginative and sharply intuitive boy from a provincial city in France has survived eight suspicious accidents, one for each year of his life. On his ninth birthday, Louis suffers a mysterious fall from a cliff and ends up in Dr. Pascal Dannachet's experimental coma clinic, where the truth of his most recent mishap will be revealed. So begins British novelist Jensen's fourth book (War Crimes for the Home , etc.), a fiercely intelligent psychological thriller told from the alternating perspectives of the comatose Louis and the professionally conflicted Dr. Dannachet. As the French police search for Pierre Drax, the prime suspect in his son's fall, Louis negotiates the unconscious world with Gustave, his grotesque, bandaged imaginary companion, and Dr. Dannachet reluctantly falls in love with Louis's mother, Natalie. Behind the many twists and turns that ensue is a multilayered, genuinely convincing emotional drama that adds substance to the suspense. Families are torn apart, scientists are confounded by the miraculous, and the human heart unleashes its many secrets. Jensen's gift for black humor and off-kilter narratives shines throughout this page-turner, and her understanding of fractured psyches and their ability to heal is remarkable. The idiosyncrasies of her peculiar characters only make them more engaging, and at the end of Jensen's gripping tale, the reader is left eager for more. (Jan.)
Forecast: Like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Life of Pi, this novel explores big ideas through the fantastic adventures of a boy-protagonist. Early enthusiasm—film rights have been optioned by Miramax for direction by Anthony Minghella ( The English Patient); rights have been sold in 11 countries; and the book is a BOMC, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild selection—bodes well for sales.