Linus' marriage is foundering and his wife, Claudia, an up-and-coming advertising executive, has gone to Chicago to visit her mother. But if Claudia is in Chicago, how is it that two FBI agents show up at Linus' office and inform him that Claudia has been killed in a plane crash on her way from New York to Brazil? And why did a man named Jeffrey Holden, the vice president of a major pharmaceutical company, buy her ticket and die beside her?
Enlisting the aid of Edward and Roy -- his friends and fellow conspiracy theorists -- Linus heads across the country in search of answers. Along the way, the trio encounters a legion of disturbing and provocative characters and clues, including an irascible talk show host, a mind-controlling drug, and an emerging link between Claudia's ad agency and the U.S. government. As their journey progresses, it becomes frighteningly clear that they've left the realm of the academic and are tangled up in a dangerous, multilayered cover-up. Finally, deep in the heart of the American desert, stunned by an ominous revelation, Linus sees he has a new mission: to try to stay alive.
With writing that is electric, whip-smart, and suspenseful at each turn, Noah Hawley draws us into a deliciously labyrinthine world of paranoia and plots.
Noah Hawley is thirty-one years old and lives in San Francisco. This is his first novel.
Orwellian echoes haunt this provocative, tongue-in-cheek debut chiller about bureaucratic mind control. When the feds fly Linus Owens, a professor of conspiracy theory at a small San Francisco college, to Florida to identify his wife's body at the site of a terrorist airliner bombing, he's devastated to learn she was on her way to Brazil with a secret lover. Mistrustful of the government, Linus coerces the airline into supplying him with the plane's unaltered passenger list and sets out with a pair of fellow conspiracy analysts to find the radicals responsible for his wife's death. After the three academics pull off some fancy computer hacking, Linus escapes the spying eyes of his pill-popping, neurotic "FBI" (really CIA) babysitter and heads cross-country to track the culprits to their lair. Marital infidelity, an enigmatic terrorist group called Danton, the long-forgotten disappearance of a talk-radio rabble-rouser, pharmaceutical intrigue involving clandestine trials of a mind-control drug, government-orchestrated kidnapping and murder all figure in the plot. Linus's search turns up more dead ends than a street map of Washington, D.C., until, by the end of this suspenseful, cerebral satire, staying alive becomes more important than finding answers as the outraged professor matches wits with men in black. (July)
Book-of-the-Month Club Owen is an Everyman who has all the right questions -- and the nerve to ask them. Hawley's crisp, witty writing gives you a great ride. Publishers Weekly Orwellian echoes haunt this provocative, tongue-in-cheek debut chiller....A suspenseful, cerebral satire.... Po Bronson, author of The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest Hidden in the cloak of a conspiracy thriller is a genre-buster of a book, a cunning, artistic, page-turning satire.... San Francisco Chronicle Noah Hawley's writing is vivid and muscular. He speeds it up and slows it down in just the right places, and the portrait he paints of Linus is memorable. [He has a] true gift for characters. San Francisco Examiner Satirical yet plausible, the plot dances with ingenuity and charges forward on Hawley's way with words -- not often found in a first novel. The New York Times Energetic and funny...an engrossing debut.