The Scapegoat

Sara Davis. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-18145-1
Davis, a PW reviewer, debuts with a delightfully off-kilter account of a man’s hallucinatory search for clues about his father’s death. “The path between events that may seem unrelated will soon become clear,” reads the unnamed and unreliable narrator’s horoscope at the start of the book, a promise that Davis gleefully breaks. The narrator, a middle-aged, misanthropic loner, tours the house his father used to live in, and wonders what happened (no details are provided at the outset). Various figures supply him with cryptic clues about his father’s fate and entanglements, such as a conversation with a professor about a graduate student who knew his father, the meaning of which hovers just out of the narrator’s grasp. Central to the mystery is the Old Mission San Buenaventura hotel his father had visited for unknown reasons, where he finds a bloody suitcase. Historical details of colonial genocide add another level of ominousness (“Stop sites of genocide from becoming tourist attractions” reads a flier addressed to the narrator’s father, who was involved in its opening) but their connection to the mystery feels tenuous. In the end it’s beside the point, as Davis offers plenty of surprises from her narrator. With the eeriness of a David Lynch film, this is made gripping by the narrator’s self-made traps. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/21/2020
Release date: 03/02/2021
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-6620-8015-9
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-250-82952-8
MP3 CD - 978-1-6620-8161-3
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