Five Stars, May 2004, 25.95, 229 pp.
In Lincoln, Nebraska Daniel Rooney knows the pivotal moment of his life occurred when he was seven and his mother died. It was not the death that impacted him as much as his older sister Phoebe hiding their mom's passing for a month from everyone. Still Daniel overcame his infamous fifteen minutes of fame, got a degree, became administrator at the Farragut Nursing Home, and married a nurse who worked there.
When Phoebe becomes in trouble for shop lifting, her parole officer arranges for her to do her community service at the nursing home. At first Phoebe does a great job, but the staff becomes concerned because she apparently has sex with septuagenarian ailing patient Harry Perlamet. When Daniel confronts Phoebe, she explains that she stole a million dollars from Harry that he had hidden in his safety deposit box and obviously expected her to steal it. Daniel becomes involved with the theft and no one, not his wife or sister included, will stop him from keeping the loot for himself.
Though the tale starts slow introducing readers to the protagonist and his sibling, this weird cornhusker noir hooks the audience once Daniel begins his spiral into paranoid darkness. From that moment the tale never lets up until the final bizarre twist. Phoebe is an amoral person while Daniel sheds his middle class trappings to join her in the theft. Ultimately he commits ever worsening crimes as he trusts no one once he gets gold fever. DAMAGED is a weird but gripping novel.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner