From one of the most inimitable writers of our generation, Jack of Spades is an exquisite, psychologically complex thriller about the opposing forces within the mind of one ambitious writer, and the line between genius and madness.
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.
If you have read Stephen Kings “The Dark Half”, then you
will get the joke behind this rather mediocre short novel. At 200 and a few more pages, it reads more
like a novella or an unfinished novel.
If this was supposed to be a humorous or even satirical book,
I just didn’t get it. The characters are thinly written, the plotting was weak,
the story-line was silly and so unbelievable that even for horror it had me
scratching my head in bemusement and the humor was for me- non-existent. I couldn’t find myself emotionally bonding
with any of the characters.
On the other hand this book does seem to find so many of
today’s issues that are plaguing the writing world, especially the self-published
and yanks these issues out into the open and lays them bare.
I wish I had read this book in its finished format to see just
how the author explains her using Stephen Kings name (among other very famous
authors) and his reactions when Ms Oates made him a plagiarist as part of her
I have heard of Ms. Oates before and had always meant to read
something by her, but if this is what I can expect then I think I will take a
pass at anything else.