Scribner, Dec 2007, $28
Edgar Freemantle had proven the American dream works. As a building contractor in the Twin Cities he made millions and received plenty of acclaim. As the Freemantle Company continued to grow by the time he turned fifty, he and his beloved wife Pam were worth at least forty million. They had two children, who at the time his “Golden Age” abruptly ended, were attending Brown University or teaching in France respectively.
The end of the Golden Era began when he experienced a basic law of physics that a pickup truck has no chance against a twelve-story crane. He came out of that crash with a cracked right side of his skull, and a thrice fractured left side; his ribs were broken; his right hip was shattered; thirty per cent of his vision in his right eye was gone; and finally his right arm was lost. He was fortunate to have survived. Twenty-five years marriage ended when a constantly raging Edgar became verbally abusive towards Pam who visited everyday as he recuperated; threatening to physically hurt and kill her; she left him believing he meant it. He also suddenly displayed a talent as an artist. Needing to leave behind people, he flees to hermit territory, Duma Key, Florida where only two other trauma survivors reside. Edgar finds out his new artistic skills enables him to see and change the future life and death of others even as he investigates the tragic history of his new island home.
The angry Edgar is an incredible three dimensional character even when he begins to display paranormal skills. Readers will sense the rage inside him even as he calmly tells his tale; his double edged demeanor shows Stephen King at his best as he uses the theme of a person feeling isolated (The Stand and Carrie, etc) ready to strike out at others even loved ones. In fact Edgar is so fascinating; the well written Duma Key historical subplot feels like an intrusive segue as the audience only wants to know more about this angry isolationist.