by Daryl Gregory
Random House Audio, June 2017, $50

Genre catalogists will have their jobs cut out for them in listing Daryl Gregory’s study of the Amazing Telemachus Family. Taking it from the top, it’s a three-generational, dysfunctional family novel. Grandfather Teddy is a world-class con man. His long-deceased wife, Maureen, was a genuine psychic. Their eldest offspring, son Frankie, moves objects with his mind, middle child Irene is “the human lie detector,” while their youngest, Buddy, is, like his mom, a precog. Irene’s young son, Matty, is capable of astral projection. For various reasons, none of them is happy about being gifted. In one of the book’s frequent use of flashbacks, Teddy and Maureen meet cute while taking ESP tests for federal employment, he believing her to be a fake, she believing him to be a real seer. While this leads not only to a charming love story and marriage, it also adds a spy element to the plot, with a persistent CIA agent named Smalls who’s constantly seeking the use of their “talents.” And, not to ignore a serious crime component, there’s a hotheaded, sociopathic mob boss whose hatred of the family increases past the boiling point when Frankie steals his most valued possession, and the widowed Teddy romances his daughter-in-law. The mobster’s unleashed fury leads to a marvelous confrontation scene, with nearly all the characters present, that manages to be both violent and hilarious. Reader Ari Fliakos, a member of The Wooster Group, seems as fond as Gregory is of his unusual creations, clearly relishing their quirks, their roller-coaster moods and their irrepressible charm.

Dick Lochte

Genre catalogists will have their jobs cut out for them in listing Daryl Gregory’s crime meets supernatural meets dysfunctional family novel.

Teri Duerr
June 2017
Random House Audio