ECCO/Harper Collins, $26.99, 382 pages, ISBN 978-0-06-266134-0
Next on our October freakfest is a novel by Adam Strenbergh, the creative demento who conjured up the Edgar nominated Spademan novels. Spademan’s the sometimes kind-hearted assassin, who operates in a destroyed, dystopian New York City. This time however, Mr. Sternbergh’s come up with a standalone that takes place in Texas. Who knew, or would’ve guessed, that the author’s attention would shift from Gotham to west Texas, but happily, he has . . . and it’s a dandy!
The Blinds, by Adam Sternbergh happens in a small, fenced-in village of cookie-cutter cement block homes that house about four dozen people, all of whom have voluntarily had their memories wiped clean. They know that with exception of a few WITSEC protectees . . . the innocents . . . they’re all criminals, guilty of notorious and terrible crimes. They’ve all been given new names on arrival, chosen from a pair of lists of celebrities and politicians; taking one name from each list. No one knows who they were, only who they are. They’re free to leave at any time. As their induction instructor tells them: “This may not be a prison, and it may not be purgatory, but it’s sure as hell not paradise, either. This is the Blinds.” It’s a hundred miles in any direction across sun baked, waterless desert terrain to civilization, and just one working vehicle in the whole place; a worn-out pick-up truck that’s used by sheriff Calvin Cooper. Truth is, nobody’s much interested in going because they can’t ever return if they do. Since no one knows if they’ve committed a crime or witnessed one, they’re all pretty sure that death lies waiting outside their rough sanctuary. It’s been like that for eight years . . . ever since the first arrivals came. The lone exception is young Isaac Adams. He was born to his mother Fran, who was secretly pregnant when she was one of the first few arrivals in the brand new town. Then, shortly after the novel begins, eight years of quiet routine is shattered by a suicide, quickly followed by a murder. Nothing will ever be the same, as more and more secrets are exposed and so many ugly truths are brought to light, including sheriff Coopers, that none of the four dozen residents will ever be safe or secure again. When the institute, who built and controls the Blinds takes a greater controlling interest however, the fate of everything, and everyone and all of the Caesura—the official name of the Blinds—is in jeopardy.
Like, Mr. Sternbergh’s two other novels The Blinds is unique, genre-bending, and mind-altering . . . while at the same time it’s thought-provoking, noirish, gritty, and beautifully well-written . . . it’s entertaining as hell and more fun than free tickets to a carnival. Count me a fan for life. Sternbergh’s the best talent to come along since Stephen King hisself!