cover image The Fall Guy

The Fall Guy

James Lasdun. Norton, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-393-29232-9

At the start of this terrific novel of suspense from Lasdun (Seven Lies), Matthew, an unemployed chef, and his cousin Charlie, a successful Wall Streeter, drive from New York City to Charlie’s vacation house in the Catskills. Charlie has invited Matthew, who’s almost like a brother, to spend the summer with him and his wife, Chloe. Matthew believes that the summer will be restorative, but the pastoral retreat is anything but as the gap in social status between him and Charlie becomes more pronounced. The tension rises when Matthew, essentially a private chef for the couple, begins to suspect Chloe of infidelity. The verboten topics of class and money hover over this literate tale of love, jealousy, and revenge. As one character notes, money is “inextricably linked to the one source of guilt and shame... the sense that you’ve stolen another person’s labor.” An undercurrent of menace and threat finally erupts, and Lasdun presents the inexorable turnings of fate in a subtle and disconcerting way. Agent: Irene Skolnick, Irene Skolnick Literary Agency. (Oct.)