Haunted by a past crime and a past lover, a psychoanalyst tries to protect his daughter from his mistakes—but at what cost?
“This dazzling gothic-tinged thriller takes us deep into a labyrinth of secrets, lies, and deceptions.”—Dan Chaon, New York Times bestselling author of Ill Will
Daniel Abend is a single parent in New York City, with a successful therapy practice and a comfortable life: an apartment on the Upper West Side, a teenage daughter, a peaceful daily routine. When one of his patients commits suicide, it is a tragedy, but one easily explained: The young woman suffered from depression and drug addiction.
But soon after, Daniel receives an ominous note that makes him question the circumstances surrounding his patient’s death. He is provided with a provocative series of clues—a mysterious key, a cryptic poem, a photograph with a chilling message. A few days later, his daughter abruptly disappears.
Daniel is swept into an increasingly desperate search for his daughter, and for the truth—a search that stretches back decades, to when he was a young man living in Paris, falling in love with a woman who would ultimately upend his life. As he is tormented by a steady flow of anonymous letters, Daniel recognizes that he must confront the secrets of his past: There is a debt to be paid, an account to be settled.
Advance praise for The Waters & The Wild
“Elegant, elegiac, enigmatic: three words to describe The Waters & The Wild. DeSales Harrison crafts a series of intricate psychological layers that blur the lines between what is past and present, real and unreal. This is a compelling debut that is equal parts character study and literary labyrinth.”—Matthew Pearl, New York Times bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer
“A cryptic, beguiling puzzle-box of a book, The Waters & The Wild is chilling in its acuity and deep in its sorrows—a mesmeric exploration of guilt in the vein of Vertigo or The Secret History, with the frantic nightmare-logic of a thriller.”—David Gilbert, author of & Sons
When artist Jessica Burke dies of an apparent overdose in her New York City apartment, her psychoanalyst, Daniel Abend, the protagonist of Oberlin professor Harrison's poignant but ponderous debut, is shocked; he thought she'd turned her life around. Daniel manages to push the matter from his mind until three years later, when he receives an anonymous package containing proof that Jessica was murdered. He destroys the evidence to avoid becoming involved, but then his 18-year-old daughter, Clementine, goes missing. His mailbox fills with menacing messages suggesting that the sender not only knows Clementine's whereabouts but also possesses information about Daniel's past indiscretions and the death of Clementine's mother. Daniel knows that he must atone for his sins, but how far will he go in order to save his child? After a strong start, the story loses steam. Although the central mystery intrigues, its convoluted denouement frustrates, and Harrison's fondness for florid prose and philosophical asides slows the pace while obscuring the plot.