Andrew J. Rush has achieved the kind of critical and commercial success most authors only dream about: He has a top agent and publisher in New York, and his twenty-eight mystery novels have sold millions of copies. Read more...
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Andrew J. Rush has achieved the kind of critical and commercial success most authors only dream about: He has a top agent and publisher in New York, and his twenty-eight mystery novels have sold millions of copies. Only Stephen King, one of the few mystery writers whose fame exceeds his own, is capable of inspiring a twinge of envy in Rush. But Rush is hiding a dark secret. Under the pseudonym "Jack of Spades," he pens another string of novelsnoir thrillers that are violent, lurid, masochistic. These are novels that the upstanding Rush wouldn't be caught reading, let alone writing. When his daughter comes across a Jack of Spades novel he has carelessly left out, she picks it up and begins to ask questions. Meanwhile, Rush receives a court summons in the mail explaining that a local woman has accused him of plagiarizing her own self-published fiction. Before long, Rush's reputation, career, and family life all come under threatand in his mind he begins to hear the taunting voice of the Jack of Spades."
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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-23
- Reviewer: Staff
A writer’s secret pseudonymous identity becomes a conduit for his murderous dark side in Oates’s sleek and suspenseful excursion into the literary macabre. For years refined crime novelist Andrew J. Rush—known to his audience as “the gentleman’s Stephen King”—has moonlighted as Jack of Spades, an author of violent pulp potboilers. When an unhinged reader brings a ludicrous lawsuit against him for literary theft, Andrew snaps. Motivated by what Poe called “the imp of the perverse”—a quotation from the Poe story of that name serves as the book’s epigraph—he begins acting increasingly like a character in one of his alter ego’s nasty novels. Oates (High Crime Area) has endowed her first-person narrator with the slightly affected speaking style and overconfidence of one of Poe’s monomaniacal protagonists. Although she nods to a number of Poe’s classic tales—especially “The Black Cat” and “William Wilson”—the story’s modern spin is entirely of her own clever invention. Readers are sure to be gripped and unsettled by her depiction of a seemingly mild-mannered character whose psychopathology simmers frighteningly close to the surface. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins & Associates. (May)