cover image The Joy of Killing

The Joy of Killing

Harry N. MacLean. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $25 (226p) ISBN 978-1-61902-536-3

A man’s desperate struggle to recapture his past propels this brilliant first novel from Edgar Award–winning true crime writer MacLean (In Broad Daylight). The unnamed narrator, who’s spending the night alone in a lakeside house, is trying to type up his significant memories on an old Underwood. He’s sure that in 1958 he had a wild sexual encounter at age 15 with a girl on a train to Chicago, on his way home from prep school in Massachusetts. He also recalls the drowning death of a teenage friend in the lake, and an afternoon when he and another boy were lured to an older man’s rented room—but he also realizes that his recollection is undependable, edited for his comfort. Amid fragmented images of violence, he strains to understand what really happened to him. Though the narrator insists that nothing matters, truth obviously does matter, and MacLean skillfully takes readers along as the narrator spins and stumbles through a tangle of disturbing meditations on innocence and guilt. Agent: Paul Bresnick, Paul Bresnick Literary Agency. (July)