A lonely young woman working in a boys' prison outside Boston in the early 60s is pulled into a very strange crime, in a mordant, harrowing story of obsession and suspense, by one of the brightest new voices in fiction.
So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop. Now you know me. I was 24 years old then, and had a job that paid 57 dollars a week as a kind of secretary at a private juvenile correctional facility for teenage boys. I think of it now as what it really was for all intents and purposes - a prison for boys. I will call it Moorehead. Delvin Moorehead was a terrible landlord I had years later, and so to use his name for such a place feels appropriate. In a week, I would run away from home and never go back. This is the story of how I disappeared.
The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father's caretaker in a home whose squalor is the talk of the neighborhood and a day job as a secretary at the boys' prison, filled with its own quotidian horrors. Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary days with perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping. In the meantime, she fills her nights and weekends with shoplifting, stalking a buff prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father's messes.
When the bright, beautiful, and cheery Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counselor at Moorehead, Eileen is enchanted and proves unable to resist what appears at first to be a miraculously budding friendship. In a Hitchcockian twist, her affection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her into complicity in a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings. Creepy, mesmerizing, and sublimely funny, in the tradition of Shirley Jackson and early Vladimir Nabokov, this powerful debut novel enthralls and shocks, and introduces one of the most original new voices in contemporary literature.
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Not For Me, Characterization Over Plot
If I had been reading this instead of using Audible I doubt I would have finished it. Eileen is fantastically written and there is some very deep characterization but there in lies the problem it is all characterization and no plot. Eileen whines, drinks, shits, and describes her period for 80% of the novel before we finally find out were the story is headed. A lot of people will say that there are no likable characters and that is also true though they are very developed. Maybe it's just not my type of novel I was hoping for a good mystery instead I got a very introspective life story of a girl whose only mystery is how she didn't shoot herself. (Not A Spoiler)
The Audible presentation was quite good though and will try Bresnahan's work in the future.
- G. Markwardt "Horror/Fantasy Reader"
Don't buy this book.
- Maria E. Xiques