A thrilling new novel by an ambitious new talent

We tried hard not to use the gawky cliché unputdownable, but there’s simply no better way to describe the excellent Sam Taylor novel The Amnesiac — which is a perfect beach/porch/backyard companion for these waning days of summer.

The book opens in Amsterdam, where Briton James Purdew has been holed up in his apartment with his girlfriend, Ingrid, after a leg injury. As their relationship deteriorates, James hears about an ex-girlfriend in passing, yet he has no recollection of this woman. So begins a journey back to England, where he tries to piece together a large swath of his life that has simply vanished from memory. Taylor uses myriad tricks — multiple narrators, tenses switching from past to present, details disgorged in reverse chronological order — but they never seem at odds with the fascinating subject and complex characters.

No spoilers here; we’ll just say that things really take a wild turn when James stumbles upon the 19th-century manuscript Confessions of a Killer.

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