cover image Daddy Love

Daddy Love

Joyce Carol Oates. Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious, $24 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2099-1

At the start of this gripping psychological thriller from Oates (The Gravedigger’s Daughter), Dinah Whitcomb is playing the “find our car” game with her five-year-old son, Robbie, in the parking lot of an Ypsilanti, Mich., mall when a stranger seizes the boy and runs over Dinah in his van, maiming her. Robbie is renamed Gideon by Daddy Love, his abductor, who has kidnapped several little boys through the years, killing them when they’re adolescents and “too old” for him. The outside world knows Daddy Love as Chet Cash, a loving father, a sensitive artist, and itinerant preacher. Spanning six years, the action shifts between Gideon and Daddy Love, who’s quick to mete out cruel punishments, and Dinah and her husband, bonded by guilt in a crumbling marriage. The creep factor ramps up when the intuitive Gideon realizes that he’s not Daddy Love’s only “son” and the fate that awaits him. This unsettling tale showcases Oates’s masterful storytelling. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins & Associates. (Jan.)