cover image The Facades

The Facades

Eric Lundgren. Overlook, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4683-0687-3

In this fascinating, complex debut novel, a famous mezzo-soprano vanishes from rehearsal, leaving behind her husband, Sven, to care for their disaffected son and search for her in the labyrinthine streets of fictional Midwestern city Trude. Though most of the plot involves Sven’s existential and often humorous detective work, Trude itself is the biggest of Lundgren’s many successes here. The once-great city is well rendered not only in its physical appearance (“The city assembled itself, scattered lights in the old skyscrapers meandering the night sky like notes on a staff”), but also in its oddities, such as the militarized library where the librarians are in a stalemate with police, a pretentious nursing home that is more difficult to gain admission to than the local college, and bathroom graffiti that reads, “There is no use in killing oneself; one always does it too late.” Ratcheted onto the spine of an un-put-downable mystery and brimming with entertaining dialogue and unique, well-wrought characters, this is one of those rare books that corners every mood, every emotion, and throws them into the spotlight. Lundgren’s debut is a fierce, funny examination of loss, set against one of the most creative worlds in recent memory, and it’s not to be missed. Agent: Renee Zuckerbrot, Renee Zuckerbrot Literary Agency. (Sept.)