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“I don’t remember who introduced me to Dr. Prendel. However, I do know that it was at the home of Martin Fleming, the psychiatrist, during a get-together of the faculty professors to celebrate his promotion from Assistant Dean to Dean, and I was immediately captivated by his reserved, taciturn attitude and the indifference with which he looked around him, as if he knew exactly what would happen and what would be said…”
Legend has is that Dr. Matthew Prendel, an expert sailor, had been shipwrecked years before the action in The Island of Last Truth opens in contemporary New York. His boat was attacked by pirates. He survived thanks to an incredible stroke of luck, while his entire crew perished, but then found himself emrboiled in a ferocious fight for survival between two castaways on a desert island. There, too, he was lucky and came out the victor.
But perhaps luck played no part in it. Perhaps something darker was at work and at stake. The only sure thing is that Matthew Prendel disappeared for five whole years. he has been back in New York now for a couple of years. That's what they say at least/ Though one should never rely entirely on hearsay.
The Island of Last Truth is part adventure story, part noir, and part mystery, one that, like many novels belonging to the adventure genre, doesn't shy away from incisive observations about the nature of human relations.
Shipwreck survival tales continue to fascinate, both for the commonality of human endurance and for the uniqueness of each situation; Company's slender novel contains both. The rare appearance of Dr. Matthew Prendel at a faculty gathering to celebrate his promotion to Columbia University dean sets tongues wagging. Not only has his physical appearance totally changed, but he is reticent to discuss any details about his alleged shipwreck and five-year disappearance. Some argue he wasn't even Prendel, but when he falls ill years later, he finally relates his shipwreck story to a female friend. He had abandoned his surgeon's scapel for sailing, his real passion, with tragic consequences. After pirates attack his yacht and force him into the sea, he lands on a tiny island where he is tended to by Nelson Souza, the island's only other inhabitant. A strange co-existence begins with Souza, who is armed and has divided the island, forbidding Prendel to cross the boundaries or risk death. Alone, Prendel hones survival skills and obsesses about seeing Souza's side of the island and escaping. Company's polished prose and the cat and mouse game between the men rapidly move the plot to a surprise ending worthy of Hitchcock. .