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.
When Robert suspects his new houseguest of getting a little too close to his wife, the good doctor’s veneer begins to crack and all the little lies he tells start to mount. Before long, he’s embroiled in a desperate downward spiral, threatening to destroy anyone who stands 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, building to a wicked twist you won't see coming.
Physician Robert Hart, the narrator of Walker's searing debut, has a beautiful wife, Elizabeth, who teaches at Stony Brook; he's reconnecting with his college-age son, Jonah, who for once is spending the summer with him in Sag Harbor, N.Y., instead of with his ex-wife; and he has just won the township's Citizen of the Year award. However, all is not well in the Hart home. Jonah's college roommate Nick Carpenter, whose parents died when he was young, is staying in their guest house, and the cynical Robert suspects, with little evidence, that Nick and Elizabeth are having an affair. As a result, Robert takes highly questionable steps to keep the two separated. After a shocking event, Robert frantically begins covering his tracks, desperate to keep his life's carefully constructed veneer of respectability intact. There are more than a few surprising twists in store in this smart, subtly menacing novel of suspense. Walker is a writer to watch.