Putnam, May 2001, 23.95, 225 pp.
Ledger editor Joe Fogarty assigns new reporter Jake Burnett to uncover the identity of the grandmaster of the postmodern American novel, Horace Jacob Little. The great author has remained anonymous for over a quarter of a century as his book jackets read more like Mike Tyson's boxing garb with no picture, autobiography, or any signings/sightings. Jake tells Joe that trying to obtain a picture of the great one seems impossible, as even his agent has never met him. Still, Jake, a fan of Little, is intrigued with the prospect.
At about the same time, Jake's college classmate at Princeton, talented but paranoid Andrew Wallace believes Little is dangerous. In his autobiography, Andrew who is a patient at the Overlook Psychiatric Institute, better known as the MUSE ASYLUM, feels he must protect his beloved Lara Knowles from the insane Little.
Jake knows Lara from Princeton and she gives him a copy of Andrew's “Confessions”, which surprisingly points in the direction of Little, especially since Wallace seems crazy. As he get closer to the truth, Jake finds himself in danger, but is not sure from whom except that it must be the paranoid Little.
The MUSE ASYLUM is an entertaining, different type of thriller that will please readers who enjoy an offbeat tale. The story line is cleverly designed and the key characters seem real. Though the extracts from Confessions slow the plot down a bit while rarely adding that much, the suspense never totally eases up for a moment and the ending is truly shocking. Fans who want to try something different will muse over the talent that David Czuchlewski exhibits in his debut tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner