NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A novel of sensational literary and psychological suspense from the best-selling author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho that tracks a group of privileged high school friends in a vibrantly fictionalized 1980s Los Angeles as a serial killer strikes across the city
“A thrilling page turner from Ellis, who revisits the world that made him a literary star with a stylish scary new story that doesn't disappoint.” –Town & Country
Bret Easton Ellis’s masterful new novel is a story about the end of innocence, and the perilous passage from adolescence into adulthood, set in a vibrantly fictionalized Los Angeles in 1981 as a serial killer begins targeting teenagers throughout the city.
Seventeen-year-old Bret is a senior at the exclusive Buckley prep school when a new student arrives with a mysterious past. Robert Mallory is bright, handsome, charismatic, and shielding a secret from Bret and his friends even as he becomes a part of their tightly knit circle. Bret’s obsession with Mallory is equaled only by his increasingly unsettling preoccupation with the Trawler, a serial killer on the loose who seems to be drawing ever closer to Bret and his friends, taunting them—and Bret in particular—with grotesque threats and horrific, sharply local acts of violence. The coincidences are uncanny, but they are also filtered through the imagination of a teenager whose gifts for constructing narrative from the filaments of his own life are about to make him one of the most explosive literary sensations of his generation. Can he trust his friends—or his own mind—to make sense of the danger they appear to be in? Thwarted by the world and by his own innate desires, buffeted by unhealthy fixations, he spirals into paranoia and isolation as the relationship between the Trawler and Robert Mallory hurtles inexorably toward a collision.
Set against the intensely vivid and nostalgic backdrop of pre-Less Than Zero L.A., The Shards is a mesmerizing fusing of fact and fiction, the real and the imagined, that brilliantly explores the emotional fabric of Bret’s life at seventeen—sex and jealousy, obsession and murderous rage. Gripping, sly, suspenseful, deeply haunting, and often darkly funny, The Shards is Ellis at his inimitable best.
Bret Easton Ellis, the narrator of this ponderous work of autofiction set in 1980s Los Angeles from bestseller Ellis, is a private school senior with literary ambitions who's fascinated by books and movies; he has already started writing his first novel, Less Than Zero. But Ellis the grown-up author ups the ante in several ways: he depicts a lavish lifestyle fueled by money and privilege, explores his own fluid sexuality (and that of some of his friends), and adds a lurid story of home invasions and murders (one victim is a high school friend). In effect, he mashes up Less Than Zero with American Psycho. As Ellis explores the theme of lost innocence ("It was as if another world was announcing itself, painting the one we had all safely taken for granted into a darker color"), he often demonstrates his skill as a storyteller, but this book feels like two disparate novels—an overly detailed, fictionalized memoir and a high gothic serial killer thriller—that never come together meaningfully or believably. This is not the place to start for those new to Ellis, nor will genre fans find much to like.