My Name Is Nathan Lucius

Mark Winkler. Soho Crime, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-61695-882-4
Early in South African author Winkler’s disturbing U.S. debut, 31-year-old Nathan Lucius, an ad salesman for a Cape Town newspaper, admits, “I don’t dislike women. I just don’t like what they can do to me.” He adds, “I liked the taste of the dead lady who may or may not have been properly dead.” Nathan’s pervasive creepiness will make it impossible for most readers to identify with him, and that challenge only becomes more pronounced when his friend Madge Cartwright, an antique store owner with terminal cancer, asks him to end her life. After taking steps to concoct an alibi and frame an innocent store customer of hers, he strangles Madge with her scarf. Nathan is so emotionally dead that it’s hard to accept that he was acting out of misguided empathy for Madge, and further violence only makes him more repulsive. If Winkler’s goal was to present an unsympathetic woman-hater, he succeeded, but the unpleasantness of the plot and lead are overpowering. Only those with a taste for the darkest of noir will be gratified. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/04/2017
Release date: 02/06/2018
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