FICTION

Read Me

Twelve: Grand Central. Aug. 2019. 256p. ISBN 9781538711477. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781538711484. F
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An extreme entry in the “stalker” subgenre, this work features Narrator (N), who at first appears to be genial, chatty, and convinced that his behaviors are research oriented, not creepy. But when he encounters Frances, his resolution not to interfere with his “subjects” vanishes. Soon Fran’s employers receive an anonymous and unsubstantiated email alleging professional perfidy. Suspended, Fran believes the source of her troubles to be team-leader Will—it isn’t, but Will soon finds himself shoved in front of a subway train, N’s first murder victim. His second is Patrick, one-night lover of Fran; his demise is bloodily gruesome, and readers who want to jump ship around page 190 will be excused. That said, Benedictus (The Afterparty) offers a lot of “experimentation” with narrative voice. The opening first-person voice shifts to omniscient, and the reader doesn’t know if this is N imagining Fran’s doings and thoughts or an altogether new voice. The second person is also used a lot, sometimes addressed to the reader, sometimes to a nonpresent Fran, sometimes to N himself. The novel ends in medias res, where books are supposed to start, with N descending from temporary quarters in Fran’s attic to join her in bed for a cup of tea.
VERDICT For hardened veteran fans of this subgenre.

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