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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 34.
- Review Date: 2007-12-10
- Reviewer: Staff
A mesmerizing blend of suspense and long-buried family secrets, Gottlieb’s second novel (after 1997’s The Boy Who Went Away) culminates in shocking revelations that rock a quiet upstate New York town. Nick Framingham is still reeling from the recent death of his childhood best friend, the writer Rob Castor, who committed suicide after killing his ex-girlfriend in Manhattan. Nick’s own marriage to his college sweetheart, Lucy, begins to unravel as he struggles to understand what drove Rob to murder. Rekindling an old relationship with his first love, Belinda, Rob’s volatile and beautiful sister, Nick begins to retrace not only Rob’s last days but also their shared childhood, looking for clues to explain his friend’s actions. Gottlieb skillfully ratchets up the suspense by doling out the details of Rob’s death in bits and pieces, until everything falls into place in a startling conclusion that will rattle even the genre’s most experienced readers. With his pitch-perfect dialogue and flawed yet empathetic characters, Gottlieb’s sophomore effort should win him widespread recognition. (Feb.)
Mystery of the month
I will say right up front that Eli Gottlieb's Now You See Him is not your conventional whodunit fare. It falls into that silvery gray area of "fine literature blended with mystery," along with Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, Ross King's Ex-Libris, or last month's Tip of the Ice Pick winner, Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier. It is a genre that I find increasingly appealingÊthe more I read (and the older I get). Now You See Him is the story of Rob Castor, a one-time literary darling who has somehow lost track of his muse, and his longtime best friend, Nick Framingham, whose arguably unhealthy devotion to Rob is playing havoc with his marriage and his sanity. Gottlieb cuts back and forth between present and past, one by one exposing the secrets that bind yet alienate the two friends. There is a murder, and a suicide, but the reader knows both victim and perpetrator from early on. Still, not everything is as it seems (is it ever?), and there is a twist that not even the most jaded of genre addicts will see coming. But, unexpected though the ending may be, that is not the focal point of Now You See Him; page after page is full of tiny pearls of wisdom, or lushly clever turns of phrase that will make youÊpause in your reading, just for the sheer pleasure of drinking in the moment. Consider this line, for instance: "He used to say that nouns were bits of two-sided tape that made symbols stick to life." Or this: "He once told me that all of poetry was contained in the b of the word subtle." When you can craft a sentence like that, a taut story line and compelling characters are simply the icing on the cake.