A New York Times Notable Book for 2002
Synopses & Reviews
The Horned Man opens with a man losing his place in a book, then deepens into a dark and terrifying tale of a man losing his place in the world. As Lawrence Miller an English expatriate and professor of gender studies tells the story of what appears to be an elaborate conspiracy to frame him for a series of brutal killings, we descend into a world of subtly deceptive appearances where persecutor and victim continually shift roles, where paranoia assumes an air of calm rationality, and where enlightenment itself casts a darkness in which the most nightmarish acts occur. As the novel races to its shocking conclusion, we follow Miller as he traverses the streets of Manhattan and the decaying suburbs beyond, in terrified pursuit of his pursuers. Written with sinuous grace and intellectual acuity, The Horned Man is an extraordinary, unforgettable first novel by an acclaimed writer and poet of unusual power.
"[S]tartling, brilliantly mysterious....Introspective readers with a taste for the bizarre will appreciate Lasdun's eerily elusive conclusion, but those seeking definitive closure will be left scratching their heads." Publishers Weekly
"An intricate thriller...a well-crafted debut....Somewhat slow in setting his scenes, Lasdun nonetheless creates a vivid and terrifying account that gains intensity from momentum and ultimately proves quite surprising in its denouement." Kirkus Reviews
"Paula Fox is the undisputed master of the short, spare, eerie tale of contemporary white urban disquietude, in which a seemingly nice individual's life starts to go off the rails as a result of some tiny yet resonant bit of trouble. Her Desperate Characters
defines the genre, if genre it is, but James Lasdun is a worthy practitioner of the art. His new novel of low-key disintegration, The Horned Man
, comes with Fox's recommendation printed on the back. The Horned Man
, for better or worse, is a less delicate example of the form....This, like David Searcy's masterly and underappreciated Ordinary Horror
, is Poe for the 21st century, a brainy chiller that finds the most terrifying monsters are those within." Laura Miller, Salon.com
(read the entire Salon review
"A remarkable, unsettling novel." Toronto Globe and Mail
"This enormously inventive, superbly written novel puts more seasoned authors in the shade." Sunday Times (London)
"A tale of Borgesian complexity...reminiscent of a set of nested Russian dolls." The Independent
"This arch, assured satire is a psychological thriller, too, and it races cleanly and hungrily to unexpected (and expected) revelations; the academic and sexual politics that ground it are familiar, but this almost doesn't matter, since Lasdun is interested in the inevitability of error when we mistake trendiness for truth." The New Yorker
"This is an exquisite and frightening book....The Horned Man is a page turner." Evening Standard (London)
"[A] marvelous novel, both compellingly readable I literally could not put it down and deeply philosophical." The Scotsman
"Witty, inventive, and engaging from start to finish." Scott W. Helman, The Boston Globe
"Unputdownable... a masterpiece of chilling, mesmerizing control.'"--Michael Dirda,
Written with sinuous grace and intellectual acuity, "The Horned Man" is an unforgettable excursion into the lethal battleground of desire and repression.
About the Author
James Lasdun was born in London and lives in upstate New York. His awards include a Dylan Thomas Award for fiction and a Guggenheim fellowship for poetry.