Things aren't going well for Joseph Geist. He's broke. His graduate school advisor won't talk to him. And his girlfriend has kicked him out of her apartment, leaving him homeless and alone. It's a tough spot for a philosopher to be in, and he's ready to give up all hope of happiness when an ad in the local paper catches his eye.
'Conversationalist wanted', it reads.
Which sounds perfect to Joseph. After all, he's never done anything in his life except talk. And the woman behind the ad turns out to be the perfect employer: brilliant, generous, and willing to pay him for making conversation. Before long, Joseph has moved in with her, and has begun to feel very comfortable in her big, beautiful house.
So comfortable, in fact, that he would do anything to stay there-forever.
At the start of this outstanding novel of psychological suspense, Kellerman's fourth (after The Genius), 30-year-old philosophy grad student Joseph Geist finds himself at loose ends after being suspended from Harvard (for failing to do any work) and breaking up with his longtime girlfriend. When Geist answers an ad in the Harvard Crimson seeking a serious conversationalist, he ends up being paid to debate free will for a few hours a day with Alma Spielmann, an elderly woman of Viennese origin. After the two bond, Spielmann offers Geist free room and board at her Cambridge house, where she lives alone. The sudden appearance of Spielmann's difficult nephew, who relies on Spielmann's financial support, threatens Geist's comfortable relationship with his benefactor. The plot builds to a climax that's as devastating as it is plausible. Few thriller writers today are as gifted as Kellerman at using lucid and evocative prose in the service of an intense and nail-biting story.