Although I would read anything with Ed McBain’s name on it pretty eagerly (well, okay, the Matthew Hope novels are not as compelling as the 87th Precinct novels and such), I buy and hold Hunter novels with some trepidation. I didn’t like how Last Summer turned out, so I fear that each will come with some sort of sudden, unsettling twist at the end.
This book starts when the twin sister of the narrator disappears from his mother’s apartment; she’s run off apparently. As the family gathers at the mother’s apartment, flashbacks tell the story of the troubled young woman, prone to traveling and telling exotic stories that are unbelieveable. Recently, the narrator has had to travel to Sicily to get her out of a mental health ward. He starts connecting the dots and incidents from her past and wonders if she really is crazy.
I wondered if we were in for a twist such as the narrator didn’t exist, the sister didn’t exist, or some sort of incest or molestation thing. But I was pleasanly surprised. The book is really just the story of a family coming to terms with the number of times it has overlooked, willfully, examples of schizophrenic behavior and what they do when they cannot deny it any longer.