Through Palmer’s perspective, Lebeau offers a deep dive into the subject of criminal psychology. Palmer inhabits the archetypical “hardboiled” detective persona, an obsessive insomniac numb to the cycle of violence, trying to outrun his past. Meanwhile Mo, an orphan from Virginia with a developmental disability due to a grand mal seizure he suffered at age eleven, acts as a foil to the cynical detective. Mo has his own fair share of emotional trauma, having lost loved ones, but despite his harsh circumstances, the young man harbors an innocent naiveté and genuine affection for his friends, making him the heart of this unsettling story.
The novel frequently hurtles between past and present incidents with both main characters, and these transitions are initially jarring–however, later in the story they smooth out and are delivered with a confident, almost cinematic flair. Palmer is often an unlikeable cliché, casually objectifying the women he meets at bars while drinking his sorrows away, but Lebeau steers away from crime tropes when illuminating the pain behind Palmer’s actions. In the end, this is a successful thriller, keeping readers on their toes and serving a satisfying climax. Fans will eagerly await the second installment of this slated quadrilogy.
Takeaway: A solid crime thriller helmed by an antihero that delves into the history of American criminal psychology.
Great for fans of: Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls, Alex Michaelides’s The Silent Patient.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A