cover image Thirteen Question Method

Thirteen Question Method

David L. Ulin. Outpost19, $18.50 trade paper (182p) ISBN 978-1-944853-90-7

Former Los Angeles Times book editor Ulin (The Lost Art of Reading) brilliantly channels the most unsettling aspects of classic noir in this mesmerizing Hollywood-set crime novel. The unnamed narrator lives an isolated existence in an apartment complex in contemporary L.A. He passes his days aimlessly, his mind wracked by existential doubts (“How can the world be an actual place when we can disappear from it, when our whole lives we are disappearing, pulling away from one another, moving apart?”). Then his neighbor Corrina, an attractive woman with a habit of screaming at night, invites herself over and confesses that she’s contemplating killing her stepmother, Sylvia, who’s trying to cheat her out of her share of her late father’s estate. The narrator agrees to talk to Sylvia for $200, only to find himself bewitched by the older woman, who admits that she’s working with attorneys to realize her late husband’s wish to cut Corrina out of the inheritance. From there, the narrator’s grasp on reality slips away, as wildfires rage and he struggles to understand who Corrina and Sylvia really are and what they want. Ulin is a master of atmosphere, sucking readers into a psychedelic vortex of dread and regret and then gradually digging them out of it. This Lynchian nightmare isn’t easy to forget. Agent: Bonnie Nadell, Hill Nadell Literary. (Oct.)