Joyce Carol Oates
Andrew J. Rush has achieved the kind of critical and commercial success most authors only dream about: his twenty-eight mystery novels have sold millions of copies in nearly thirty countries, and he has a top agent and publisher in New York. He also has a loving wife, three grown children, and is a well-regarded philanthropist in his small New Jersey town. But Rush is hiding a dark secret. Under the pseudonym “Jack of Spades,” he writes another string of novels—dark potboilers that are violent, lurid, even masochistic. These are novels that the refined, upstanding Andrew Rush wouldn’t be seen reading, let alone writing. Until one day, his daughter comes across a Jack of Spades novel that he has carelessly left out and begins to ask questions. Meanwhile, Rush receives a court summons in the mail explaining that a local woman has accused him of plagiarizing her own self-published fiction. Rush’s reputation, career, and family life all come under threat—and unbidden, in the back of his mind, the Jack of Spades starts thinking ever more evil thoughts. (from Netgalley)
Andrew Rush is a successful author. No one, not even his family, knows that he also writes books under the name Jack of Spades. Andrew takes great pleasure writing as Jack of Spades because the stories are dark and twisted. He likes that this part of his life is hidden. But when there is a chance that his secret will be revealed, Andrew’s hold on reality slowly starts to unravel.
When we first meet Andrew J. Rush, he is a bit of a pompous jerk. His biggest fan is himself. He can’t imagine his life might fall apart and when it starts to do exactly that, his alter ego - Jack of Spades - starts to take over his thoughts and actions.
Ms. Oates did a great job creating an unstable character with Andrew J. Rush. I found it interesting that she incorporated author Stephen King into the story, as the level of creepiness in Jack of Spades made me think of King’s writing. Rush was one of those characters that made me happy he got what he had coming at the end.
My thanks to Grove Atlantic, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.