cover image The Inquisitor

The Inquisitor

Mark Allen Smith. Holt, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9426-8

Information retrieval takes on a sinister cast in Smith’s mesmerizing thriller debut, whose hero, Geiger (aka “the Inquisitor”), makes his living torturing the truth out of people. When client Richard Hall, an agent for a private art collector, shows up at a Manhattan hideout with 12-year-old Ezra Matheson instead of the intended target, Ezra’s father, who’s stolen a valuable de Kooning from the collector, it triggers a protective instinct in Geiger. Rather than torturing the boy about his father’s whereabouts, Geiger takes the boy and goes on the run; Hall and his cohorts follow in hot pursuit. Smith tantalizes the reader with bits about the enigmatic Geiger’s past as well as his present. Graphic descriptions of torture coolly administered by Geiger show him to be a decidedly warped character, but he’s also a fascinating piece of work as he copes with the deadly agents determined to recapture Ezra. This may be the most unusual and talked about thriller of the season. (Jan.)