The Reflection

Hugo Wilcken. Melville (Random, dist.), $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-61219-449-3
Set in New York City in 1949, this well-written but unsatisfying novel from Wilcken (The Execution) tells the story of psychiatrist David Manne, who commits an apparently violent man, Peter Esterhazy, to the Stevens Institute, a Manhattan mental hospital. When the patient later persuades Manne that his real name is Smith and he’s being held against his will, Manne smuggles Esterhazy/Smith out of the institute and takes the man back to Manne’s own apartment. A day later, while Esterhazy/Smith is alone in the apartment, Manne is pushed (or does he jump?) onto the subway tracks and suffers serious head injuries. When Manne is pegged as “Stephen Smith” (he has Esterhazy/Smith’s ID in his pocket), he must convince his doctor of his true identity. A fine stylist, Wilcken captures a noirish, postwar New York, but the surreal story—more mysterious than a mystery—never compels enough interest to make the reader accept the bizarre premise or care about its consequences. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/13/2015
Release date: 09/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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