NAME IS NATHAN LUCIUS
Publisher: Soho Crime (February, 2018)
Format: Paperback (January 29, 2019)
ISBN: 978-1-61695-883-1 (e-book)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Nathan is, to all appearances, an ordinary guy. He’s been selling ads for a Cape Town newspaper for three years, but he’s starting to suffer from burnout. He can’t seem to please his editor Sonia, and he’s having less fun when he joins his colleagues at Eric’s bar. It’s obvious to his colleagues that he’s quit caring about the job, coming in late, drunk or not at all. He drinks heavily, sometimes to the point of blackout.
He’s an introvert, preferring to stay in his apartment alone. His walls are covered with old photos of people he doesn’t know. Having no family of his own, he arranges photos he gets from old albums into a family tree of his own. The albums come from his friend’s antique store. Madge is the closest he has to a BFF, and she cares for him too. She trusts him so much that she asks him to kill her. At first he’s aghast, saying he could never do that, but as her suffering from terminal cancer gets worse, he does consider it. Okay, he may not be such an ordinary guy at all.
Things get a little brighter for him when a new neighbor moves in. He helps her move her dryer into the apartment, and she tells him he can do his laundry there anytime. Mrs. du Toit also makes it clear that he can do her too. Although she’s older, and the bloom has faded from her rose, he takes her up on the offer. They go hot and heavy for a while, but when the initial excitement wears off, he drops her and she moves away with no goodbyes. Just as well, she’s seen his weird family tree, a major error on her part.
As Nathan’s life spirals downward, some of his backstory is revealed. A major childhood trauma left deep scars in his fragile psyche. Instead of seeking help, he copes by pursuing his strange interests.
This is the second novel by Mark Winkler. His writing is acclaimed in South Africa, and should be soon in the rest of the world. Nathan is partly a sympathetic protagonist, partly an incredibly damaged man. This thriller starts slowly, speeding up as he descends further into madness, leaving the reader breathless. Highly recommended.
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