From the novelist the New York Times compares to Paul Bowles, Evelyn Waugh and Ian McEwan, an evocative new work of literary suspense
Adrift in Cambodia and eager to side-step a life of quiet desperation as a small-town teacher, 28-year-old Englishman Robert Grieve decides to go missing. As he crosses the border from Thailand, he tests the threshold of a new future.
And on that first night, a small windfall precipitates a chain of events-- involving a bag of “jinxed” money, a suave American, a trunk full of heroin, a hustler taxi driver, and a rich doctor’s daughter-- that changes Robert’s life forever.
Hunters in the Dark is a sophisticated game of cat and mouse redolent of the nightmares of Patricia Highsmith, where identities are blurred, greed trumps kindness, and karma is ruthless. Filled with Hitchcockian twists and turns, suffused with the steamy heat and pervasive superstition of the Cambodian jungle, and unafraid to confront difficult questions about the machinations of fate, this is a masterful novel that confirms Lawrence Osborne’s reputation as one of our finest contemporary writers.
Robert Grieve, a 28-year-old English schoolteacher, begins his summer holiday in Cambodia by winning "two grand in dollar bills" at a borderland casino; Osborne's sinuous, suspenseful novel traces Robert's ensuing journey through a place where "karma swirled around all things." Tired of his "claustrophobic and petty" life at home in Thailand, Robert seizes the opportunity that arises when suave, 30-something American expat Simon Beaucamp stylishly swindles him out of his winnings and his passport. Left nearly penniless in Phnom Penh, instead of going to the authorities, Robert invents a new name and identity and begins a relationship with the Paris-educated Sophal, herself at loose ends in the country of her birth. Meanwhile, the stolen money doesn't benefit Simon and his Khmer girlfriend, Sothea, for long goaded by paranoia and a shared heroin addiction, "they had taken off without much planning" and in the course of this haphazard trip encounter a violent force that also threatens Robert and his precarious new existence. Many of the characters seem like echoes of one another in various ways, which can take some getting used to on the reader's part, and it isn't always successful. What readers will remember instead is Osborne's lush, vivid descriptions of a land where "the daily thunder rolled in with a generous laziness and the trees shimmered with lightning."