An existential thriller, translated from the French, about a New York Times reporter with one hell of a deadline.
This is the 13th novel by the wildly popular Levy (If Only It Were True, 2000, etc.). While it’s less syrupy than his previous books, discerning readers will find plot holes you could drive a tank through. Thirty-something Andrew Stilman is working as the obituaries editor for the Times when one night he drunkenly stumbles into Valerie Ramsay, an attractive classmate from days gone by. Their affair blossoms quickly into love and a marriage proposal. But days before the wedding, Andrew meets a mysterious woman who obsesses him to the point that he confesses the emotional betrayal to his new wife, ruining his marriage in less than a day. This is when things get weird. A few days later, Andrew is running along the Hudson when he’s viciously stabbed in the back. When he wakes up, it’s 60 days earlier. Over the course of the next two months, Andrew pounds the pavement, trying to figure out who wants to kill him. Somehow, instead of obits, he's now doing investigative reporting that has attracted the ire of many. Could the would-be killer be connected to the parents who lost their adopted children, who turned out to have been stolen from China? Or Maj. Ortiz, the Argentinean warlord whose atrocities Andrew uncovered? Or could it be someone closer to home, like Valerie? It could even be Andrew’s philosophical tailor. “There’s no going back,” he warns the young reporter. “And some actions can have irreparable consequences—like falling for some total stranger, however mesmerizing she may be, right before your wedding.” It’s worth making the leap of metaphysical faith to enjoy Andrew’s dilemma if you can buy into the setup. Unfortunately, Levy can’t seem to decide whether he’s writing a ghost story, a geopolitical thriller or a spy novel, and the story never really coalesces enough to satisfy.
An eerie premise, indeed, but this murky thriller can’t quite stick the landing.