A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Man of the Year by Caroline Louise Walker- Feature and Review


Beware the Man of the Year. You may praise him, resent him, even want to be him: but beneath the elegant trappings that define him, danger looms. Caroline Louise Walker’s stunning debut novel, for fans of Herman Koch’s The Dinner and Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door, delves into the increasingly paranoid mind of a man whose life as the most upstanding of citizens hides a relentlessly dark heart.

Dr. Robert Hart, Sag Harbor’s just-named Man of the Year, is the envy of his friends and neighbors. His medical practice is thriving. He has a beautiful old house and a beautiful new wife and a beautiful boat docked in the village marina. Even his wayward son, Jonah, is back on track, doing well at school, finally worthy of his father’s attentions. So when Jonah’s troubled college roommate, Nick, needs a place to stay for the summer, Hart and his wife generously offer him their guest house. A win-win: Jonah will have someone to hang with, and his father can bask in the warm glow of his own generosity.

But when he begins to notice his new houseguest getting a little too close to his wife, the good doctor’s veneer begins to crack. All the little lies Robert tells—harmless falsehoods meant to protect everything he holds dear—begin to mount. Before long, he’s embroiled in a desperate downward spiral, destroying the lives that stand in his way. It’s only the women in his life—his devoted office manager, his friends, his wife—who can clearly see the truth.
Biting and timely, Man of the Year races along at an electric pace, with a wicked twist that you won’t see coming. 



Man of the YearMan of the Year by Caroline Louise Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Man of the Year by Caroline Louise Walker is a 2019 Gallery Books publication.

A twisty examination of the long lasting repercussions of infidelity

By all accounts, Dr. Robert Hart is a confident and productive member of society. He has just received a prestigious award, has a successful career, friends, a big house, a boat, and his beautiful wife, Elizabeth.

But every family has its hidden instabilities. For Robert and Elizabeth, it is the stigma of building a marriage upon a foundation of infidelity. They were both married to other people when their relationship began, but after divorcing their respective spouses, they married. Now, after a decade, their marriage appears to be a stable one. However, Robert’s son from his first marriage, Jonah, was the collateral damage in Robert’s decision to leave his family for Elizabeth.

For years, Jonah has been resentful and aimless, and naturally feels uncomfortable around his stepmother. But things are finally looking up. Jonah is staying with Robert and Elizabeth for the summer and he has even brought a friend along with him.

Nick’s parents are both dead, and with no other big plans on the horizon, he readily accepts Elizabeth’s invitation to stay for the entire summer with Jonah. However, Robert is not so keen on that idea. He’s jealous of Nick, believing he has designs on his wife. Not only that, Elizabeth seems to bask in the glow of his attentions. And why not? After all, she did cheat on her first husband with Robert, didn’t she? Robert’s paranoia, once it has taken root, knows no bounds, as he plots to nudge Nick out his home under the pretext of saving his family.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave…

What a twisted little story this is!! Infidelity and the mistrust all that implies is at the heart of this story. Robert’s actions are based on deeply buried suspicions about Elizabeth, his guilty conscience about his son’s struggles, and his supreme arrogance and insecurities. Once the lies and machinations begin, there is a tragic snowball effect, raising the stakes even higher, as Robert could lose everything, including his career.

I thought this story was clever, although most readers will figure out a few of the twists in advance. That’s not really an issue for me in this case, as the dark humor in the story was rich and quite delicious. This book is packed with morally bankrupt characters, some hoping to cash in on an unexpected opportunity, while others are laying well concealed traps. The fun is in trying to decipher which one is worse than the other and watching it all play out in the most bizarre way imaginable. How will you judge these characters? Will you believe the worst about them or give them the benefit of the doubt, or condemn them all?

This is a dark character driven mystery, and even a little addicting. A good book to pack with you for a day at the beach.





Caroline Louise Walker grew up in Rock Island, Illinois. For her fiction and nonfiction, she has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The Kerouac Project, and Jentel Arts. She holds an MA from NYU. Man of the Year is her first novel.

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