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The body of a teenage boy is discovered in a Kansas field. The murder haunts Donna—a recent widow battling cancer—calling forth troubling details from long-suppressed memories of her past. Hoping to discover more about "disappeared" people, she turns to her son, Scott, who is fighting demons of his own. Addicted to methamphetamines and sleeping pills, Scott is barely holding on—though the chance to help his mother in her strange and desperate search holds out a slim promise of some small salvation.
But what he finds is a boy named Otis handcuffed in a secret basement room, and the questions that arise seem too disturbing even to contemplate. With his mother's health rapidly deteriorating, he must surrender to his own obsession, and unravel Otis's unsettling connections to other missing teens . . . and, ultimately, to Scott himself.
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The author of two novels and a volume of poetry, Scott Heim has written for numerous publications, including The Advocate, Village Voice, and Nerve.com. He lives in Boston.From Publishers Weekly:
Strange and luminous, this fascinating psychological thriller from Heim (In Awe) tackles questions of identity, illness and trauma. Scott, a writer and drug addict, travels back to Kansas from New York City at the request of his ill mother, Donna, who's become obsessed with missing children. Scott soon finds out that Donna believes she was kidnapped in her youth by an elderly couple who eventually returned her unharmed. This experience has led her to an odd alliance with a boy who leaves candy on Donna's front porch. When Donna becomes too ill to continue research for a supposed book on disappeared children, Scott, with help from a friend of Donna's, goes on the road for answers. Taut and beautifully clear, the writing at times recalls that of Paul Auster, but the plot ends in a place less interesting than where it began. The reader may feel that revealing the mundane truth behind Donna's childhood experiences betrays the essential mystery of all the lost boys and girls described in the novel. (Mar.)
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