Martin Harris returns home after a short absence to find that his wife doesn’t know him, another man is living in his house under his name, and the neighbors think he’s a raving lunatic. Worse, not a single person - family, colleague, or doctor - can vouch for him. Worse still, the impostor shares all of Martin’s memories, experiences, and knowledge, down to the last detail. He is, in fact, a more convincing Martin than Martin himself.
Is it a conspiracy? Amnesia? Is Martin the victim of an elaborate hoax or of his own paranoid delusion?
In his high-powered new novel, Didier van Cauwelaert, the award-winning author of One-Way, explores the illusory nature of identity and the instability of the things we take for granted. Dispossessed of his job, his family, his name, and his very past, Martin Harris is an Everyman caught in an absurd and yet disturbingly convincing nightmare, one that seems to have no exit and that resists every explanation. Part moral fable, part Robert Ludlum-style thriller, Out of My Head is a fast-paced tale of one man’s desperate attempt to reclaim his existence - even at the cost of his own life.
“Simply thrilling. Its surprising denouement works a retrospective magic.” (New York Times Book Review)
“The idea driving Out of My Head is compelling….The terse prose is unpretentious and the plot full of captivating twists.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Van Cauwelaert’s convincing little nightmare, a Twilight Zone-ish yarn.” (Entertainment Weekly)
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Intriguing thriller with a perfunctory ending
It's fine – an intriguing thriller, rather than an ultra-tense one, but with a premise that's worth sticking with. However, it's comparitively short, and the ending feels rather perfunctory.
There are several confrontations between the protagonist, Martin, and the people who claim not to know who he is – or who are beginning to doubt him – where the character's evident frustrations are most keenly felt. Also, the burgeoning possibility of romance between Martin and the female taxi driver who hit him, putting him in hospital in the first place, is quite sweetly and tentatively played out.
Bronson PInchot ensures that all the principal characters are clearly distinct from one another. In a story about identity, and what it means to be you, that's pretty important. And for a story set in France with a multinational array of characters, none of the accents feel out of place or mannered.
There's a scene between the hero, Martin, and the young son of the taxi driver that is incredibly sweet. It makes the inevitable twist that you know must be coming – because there's always a twist in these stories – that much more tantalising. You could just about swallow adults being betrayed – be it Martin's wife or his new lover, someon'e bound to get hurt. But a kid?...
- S. Matthewman