Review: The Singer's Gun

The Omaha Bookworm’s met with Emily during the fall to discuss her first novel Last Night in Montreal so I was happy to accept a copy of her second novel. It arrived just days before Christmas, the cover looked intriguing to me so I read this one right away. This book is scheduled for release May 2010.

From Author’s website: Emily St. John Mandel was born on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada, in 1979. She studied dance at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre and lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York. She is married and lives in Brooklyn.

Synopsis: The Singer’s Gun is a story of love, corruption, betrayal, human trafficking, and the difficulty of living an honorable life.
Everyone Anton Waker grew up with is corrupt. His parents are dealers in stolen goods, and his first career was a partnership venture with his cousin Aria; they sold forged passports and social security cards to illegal aliens together, until Anton began to long for a less corrupt way of living in the world and set out to change his life. By his late twenties he has reinvented himself as a successful middle manager at a water systems consulting firm.

Anton leads a happy, steady life, engaged to be married and working in a job he loves, until a routine corporate background check reveals that contrary to what the framed diploma on his office wall might suggest, Anton never actually attended Harvard. In the meantime, his secretary has disappeared, and his cousin Aria is blackmailing him; if he doesn¹t do one last job for her, she¹ll tell his unsuspecting new wife that Anton¹s diploma is a fake.

As Anton’s carefully constructed life begins to disintegrate around him, he’s forced to choose between his loyalty to his family and his longing to live honorably in the world.

Type: Fiction, 304 pages, Hardcover

Quick Take: This is a quick read, I love Emily’s writing style – every word serves a purpose. It’s a bit romance, mixed with drama and suspense. I didn’t see the plot twist coming which is always a nice surprise! I found the review below while visiting the author’s website, it’s a perfect recap (in my opinion).

"Making good on the promise she showed in her debut, Mandel has crafted a taut novel that defies categorization in all the best ways. Is it a domestic drama? A political thriller? A love story? Can it be all these things and more? It can, and it is. On his honeymoon, Anton Waker leaves his wife in order to remain on the remote island of Ischia off the coast of Italy. Using a spellbinding structure of fractured scenes and complex chronologies, Mandel reveals his mystery to the reader in small, addictive doses. This is a book to be read compulsively, and then read again for its exquisite detail and its beautiful prose. A riveting read."  -Patrick Brown, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena

Source: Advanced reader copy