Sunday, January 18, 2015

THE DOUBLE BIND by Chris Bohjalian

While Laurel was in college, two men attacked her while she was cycling alone in Underhill, Vermont.  Now she no longer bikes and has never returned to Underhill, although she still lives in Vermont.  The two perps, one a drifter and one a murderer, are now in prison, and Laurel is attempting to get on with her life as a social worker in a homeless shelter.  When a mentally ill homeless man named Bobbie Crocker comes to the shelter with an armload of photos that he purportedly shot, Laurel, a photography buff herself, becomes obsessed with researching Bobbie’s past.  Laurel has enough problems without burdening herself with Bobbie’s, especially since he has recently died of a stroke.  One of the photos, however, is particularly unsettling, and Laurel’s quest for answers becomes increasingly more frenzied, as she begins to avoid her roommate, her boss, and her boyfriend, for fear that they will distract her from her mission.  Meanwhile, her friends are becoming alarmed at Laurel’s behavior, but she is in a race against the clock, because other parties may be interested in Bobbie’s photos and may be willing to go to great lengths to acquire them.  I was on Laurel’s side until she started lying about her whereabouts and forgetting to shower.  This literary mystery also appears to be sort of a semi-sequel to The Great Gatsby, and I found the incorporation of iconic characters Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan in the storyline somewhat disconcerting, but not nearly as disconcerting as the ending.  I didn’t see this one coming.

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