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Esquire
Wednesday, July 5th, 2006
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Strangers' Gate

by Tom Casey

Sex! Violence! Summer!

A review by Anna Godbersen

A woman enters with no more fuss than a "brisk knocking at the door," and it won't be long until she asks our protagonist to do something dangerous; that is the kind of novel Tom Casey conjures with Stranger's Gate. There will be more women, and more dangerous favors to come, for our protagonist is Jason Walker, a pilot, a pleasure seeker, and a risk taker with a decent streak. After an amiable but depressing divorce, which follows but is not entirely caused by an affair with gorgeous blonde Charlotte Lansing, Jason trades New York for St. Croix, and his job as a dot-com executive for a gig flying tourists around the islands in an airboat. The new pace suits him fine, but Charlotte, like any gorgeous blonde worth her salt, is due for a reappearance, and as our protagonist is about to discover, her husband Alan, a corporate raider/pornographer, is not a nice guy. This is where the true danger begins. Stranger's Gate is full of hammy noir philosophizing ("Other people sometimes make you doubt your humanity") and asides from a sophisticated, dinner-party world ("He was talking to two men about tax avoidance, a subject that clearly excited him"). Casey writes simple, effective prose that achieves a kind of beauty when turned on the urgencies of flight. For a thriller, Stranger's Gate meanders a little and takes its time, but once the action picks up it proves to be the kind of story in which sex is dark and violence is necessary. Here is a novel perfectly suited for humid nights.


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