A horror novel disguised as a mystery thriller novel disguised as a literary novel. The only thing that gets in this book’s way is the literary aspects. I’m as big a fan of the artful turn of phrase as any reader, but the first act—nearly a third of the book—is taken up with the literary meanderings of emotional characterization. I found it to be a slog before something happens. Once the reader is there, the novel builds tension and pathos within the relationship of two despicable people. Neither of them is entirely likable—and they do not need to be—so the book explores the space between their degrees of damage and asks which of these characters deserves a second chance?
Nick and Amy’s relationship, before her disappearance, is built on the fiction of New York and their careers in the city. When they are forced to leave, they must confront the truth of their relationship and the lengths they’ll go to for happiness. Amy’s disappearance provides Nick the first opportunity in his life to confront who he really is and what he truly wants. Nick is our narrator in real time and Amy’s diary provides the story from her perspective. Being the primary suspect in his wife’s disappearance, however, tends to get in Nick’s way because of his flawed upbringing. Amy’s voice is mostly experienced through the diary until later in the book when others offer their opinion and the story’s third act kicks into high gear.
The despicable nature of the characters and the ending bothers a great deal of people I’ve spoken to. I think the ending is appropriate for a horror novel—despite the books genre characterization as a mystery thriller. What more horrifying way to bring this story to a close?