A tense, mesmerizing novel about memory, privacy, fear, and what happens when our past catches up with us.
After a decade living in England, Jeremy O'Keefe returns to New York, where he has been hired as a professor of German history at New York University. Though comfortable in his new life, and happy to be near his daughter once again, Jeremy continues to feel the quiet pangs of loneliness. Walking through the city at night, it's as though he could disappear and no one would even notice.
But soon, Jeremy's life begins taking strange turns: boxes containing records of his online activity are delivered to his apartment, a young man seems to be following him, and his elderly mother receives anonymous phone calls slandering her son. Why, he wonders, would anyone want to watch him so closely, and, even more upsetting, why would they alert him to the fact that he was being watched?
As Jeremy takes stock of the entanglements that marked his years abroad, he wonders if he has unwittingly committed a crime so serious as to make him an enemy of the state. Moving towards a shattering reassessment of what it means to be free in a time of ever more intrusive surveillance, Jeremy is forced to ask himself whether he is "no one," as he believes, or a traitor not just to his country but to everyone around him.
— Included in NPR's Best of 2016 Book Concierge
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
I Am No One is a thoroughly modern and totally addictive thriller about the limits of personal privacy and the true costs of freedom. It’s the story of professor Jeremy O’Keefe, a man who has no secrets—or so he thinks. Patrick Flanery’s intelligent and unnerving exploration of cyber-surveillance and global terrorism challenges the very idea of an ordinary life and suggests that we all have secrets that are too dangerous to keep to ourselves.
Flanery's (Absolution) third novel is a brilliant commentary on pervasive government intrusion into the private lives of citizens. Middle-aged American college professor Jeremy O'Keefe has returned to the U.S. after teaching at Oxford for 10 years and gaining dual U.S.-British citizenship. His life, however, is unsettled. Once back in New York City, teaching at NYU, he feels like a stranger in his own country, with an uncomfortable sense of cultural dislocation and loneliness. Then mysterious boxes arrive at his apartment, and his tenuous grip is truly shaken. The boxes contain his whole digital life for the past 10 years Internet data, phone records, and photos. Clearly, he has been under surveillance for years, but he has no idea why. Jeremy's paranoia spikes when he also realizes he is being shadowed by Michael Ramsey, who claims to be a former student. Jeremy thinks back to his years at Oxford, trying to figure out what might have triggered such detailed surveillance, and why someone would want him to know he was being watched. Potential reasons include his strained relationship with another Oxford professor, as well as his illicit romance with Fadia, an Egyptian graduate student with dangerous political connections. This is an excellent portrayal of a good man manipulated by others, without ever understanding why.
The topic itself is decent. However this is the type of author that likes to take what seems three paragraphs to describe a tree in a scene that has absolutely nothing to do with the overall story. The actual story could be about 1/3 as long.
Writes well enough, but a mind numbing tedious story...