FICTION

The Bad Angel Brothers

Mariner: Houghton Harcourt Sept. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9780358716891. $28.99. F
COPY ISBN
A toxic sibling rivalry is at the center of this novel from celebrated novelist and travel writer Theroux (Under the Wave at Waimea), set in a small Massachusetts town. Cal is a geologist whose searches for precious gems have taken him around the world. Older brother Frank is an injury lawyer who has stayed in his hometown. While Frank presents himself to the town as an altruistic benefactor, Cal, who saved him from drowning as a teen, sees another side—a two-faced liar (indeed, owing to a childhood illness, the two sides of his face seemingly work independently of one another) who rarely does anything that doesn’t have an angle that benefits himself. Frank’s resentment of Cal grows through the years as he seemingly sets out to destroy him, alienating Cal’s wife and son, and, as his wife’s divorce lawyer, attempting to ruin him financially, leading Cal to plot a dire revenge.
VERDICT As with any sibling rivalry, there are two sides to the story, and much of the tension hangs on whose perception is correct. Is Frank truly a villain, or is Cal an unreliable narrator whose perceptions are skewed by his experiences with Frank? Or are both statements true at once? A fraught psychological drama rich with mythic overtones.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?

We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?