T.C. Boyle, one of the 21st century's most prolific and eclectic authors, turns his hand to suspense with a novel based on the invasive and chillingly simple crime of identity theft. Though it doesn't completely succeed as a thriller, Talk Talk is a literate tale of stolen identity, mistaken identity and Boyle-esque crises of identities.

Dana is professor at a school for the deaf in California. Being deaf herself, her arrest for assault, forgery and other crimes committed in a Nevada town she didn't know existed proves all the more difficult to sort out. The several frightening and humiliating days she spends in prison rob her of her sense of invulnerability and leave her with a fierce desire to hunt down the person responsible and make him pay. So she and her boyfriend, Bridger, set out on his trail. It's not long before they land on the radar of the man they are naively hunting. William Peck Wilson is a convicted felon who is trained for violence and enjoys employing it. While in prison in New York, he was turned onto the armchair felony of identity theft by Sandman, his predictably tattooed criminal mentor.

Peck flees California with his girlfriend and her whiny toddler daughter. He heads back to New York where his own daughter, strictly off-limits to him since his incarceration, resides in a township north of Manhattan. Dana and Bridger give chase, Bridger with mounting reluctance, even when he finds out that Peck has stolen his identity to finance his trip. But Dana refuses to give up, letting Bridger know in no uncertain terms that if he loves her, he will accompany her to the end. The book's unpredictable climax shows how determination and love can overcome the most daunting of obstacles.

Ian Schwartz writes from New York City.

 

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