cover image How Lucky

How Lucky

Will Leitch. Harper, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-307309-8

Deadspin founder Leitch (God Save the Fans) attempts to fuse a thriller onto a hopeful story of a man living with a degenerative disease, with surprisingly bland results. Daniel, 26, who uses a wheelchair and is unable to speak because of his spinal muscular atrophy, lives in the college town of Athens, Ga., where he works from home for a regional airline responding to tweets from angry customers and spends time with his perky Pakistani caretaker, Marjani, and stoner buddy Travis. One morning, he sees a young woman get into a tan Camaro outside his home. He later learns college student Ai-Chin has gone missing and believes he had witnessed Ai-Chin’s abduction, then gets way in over his head trying to track down her abductor in a plot combining Daniel, Travis, and Marjani’s Hardy Boys–style sleuthing with Daniel’s obsessive, increasingly dangerous Reddit posts about Ai-Chin and the Camaro. The thriller plot is weakened by long digressions about the effects of Daniel’s disease, frequent musings on subjects such as college football, and the implausibility that Daniel would blithely put himself in harm’s way. The well-intentioned portrayal of what it means to live with a degenerative condition fails to compensate for the absence of convincing characters and plot. Readers can safely take a pass. Agent: David Gernert, the Gernert Co. (May)