cover image Swallow the Ghost

Swallow the Ghost

Eugenie Montague. Mulholland, $29 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-56806-7

In this bold and bewitching debut, Montague explores the complex construction of public and private identities in three interlocking narratives. The first part comprises a deceptively traditional mystery centered on burned-out marketer Jane Murphy, who’s building buzz for the next novel from experimental crime author Jeremy Miller by managing multiple fake social media accounts that tell the story of a fictional girl’s disappearance. After Jane is murdered, Montague’s story morphs into a true crime pastiche narrated by the PI investigating her death, who’s wrestling with an identity crisis brought on by his career change from journalist to detective. In the final section, Miller describes his life after Jane’s death—including the ways he dealt with rumors that he killed her—in a podcast interview, which shrewdly transforms him from secondary character to self-obsessed protagonist and underscores the novel’s themes about the slipperiness of self-conception. Montague navigates the perspective switches with prose so distinctive that each segment feels almost as if it were written by a different author, which makes for thrilling reading while enhancing the narrative’s Rashomon-like structure. The result is a brain-teasing triumph that will reward multiple readings. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (Aug.)