Meet Edward Rollins, scion of one of Boston's more notable families. A diligent but uninspired employee at one of the city's finest investment houses, he is a man of means -- and of secrets. Each night, armed with a hand-held tape recorder, he randomly picks a car and follows it to a destination, cataloging the habits and peculiarities of its driver. A harmless obsession.
But one night changes everything. Trailing a car to a remote suburb, Rollins follows it to a house that, he eerily realizes, was once frequented by his murdered cousin. Drawn into a mystery to which he unwittingly holds the key, he must unlock the secrets of his past to find the truth -- a search that could free him from his own dark house of despair.
A harrowing, tension-riddled literary thriller that echoes the storytelling power of Frederick Busch and Ian McEwan, The Dark House heralds the arrival of a major talent.
Dysfunctional families, damaged children and murderous greed collide against an insufferably preppy backdrop in first-timer Sedgwick's ambitious thriller. The protagonist, Edward Rollins, is a timid American Psycho: rather than killing his quarry, he merely follows it. A wealthy Bostonian with a cushy finance job, Rollins is also a meticulous voyeur, following strangers in his car and recording his observations on tape. One night he trails a mysterious man in an Audi, who goes into a darkened house without turning on any lights. Shortly thereafter, Rollins receives a mysterious fax, which he pores over with a colleague from work, a down-to-earth Midwesterner named Marj. The voyeur's weird world gets weirder as he returns to the dark house and runs into a shady real estate broker named Jerry Sloane, who seems to be in cahoots with the Audi's driver. The watcher becomes the watched as Rollins himself is followed by the Audi, distracting him not only from his peeping but from his obsessive pondering over the disappearance, seven years ago, of his older cousin and first love, Cornelia, and brooding over disturbing, half-repressed memories of his little sister's death in the bathtub when he should have been watching her. While Rollins's comical Boston family illuminates some of his shadowy childhood, an affable, ursine PI named Schecter more directly accelerates the plot, revealing a possible motive for Cornelia's murder. Sedgwick's psychological thriller is at once an old-fashioned whodunit and a meditation on abused and neglected children, while Rollins himself is curiously multifaceted--obsessive, na ve, reclusive, predatory, fearful. Marj propels the plot with her no-nonsense ideas for pursuing Sloane, even as she provides a psychosexual tug to draw Rollins out of his shell. Though overlong, this spooky soap opera methodically peels back New England's upper crust to reveal a rotten pie indeed. FYI: Sedgwick's family includes Warhol groupie Edie Sedgwick and actress Kyra Sedgwick.