STRANGE DEATHS OF THE LAST ROMANTIC


In Mikheyev’s grim thriller, a man has a peculiar ability to simply disappear and reappear elsewhere.

Sometime in 2000, 10-year-old Adam Micah survives a car accident in Cleveland that unfortunately kills his mother. After waking from a coma, he moves in with a foster family and, thanks to an odious foster father, becomes increasingly miserable. Consequently, the boy decides to shoot himself. Only he doesn’t die; instead, he awakens naked and somewhere in the Virgin Islands. An amiable family takes him in, and he’s content for a number of years. But when strange men suddenly attack and shoot him, Adam undergoes the same inexplicable awakening, this time winding up in New York. He defies death on multiple occasions and eventually meets college student Lilyanne Beloshinski in Atlanta. Having adopted the new name Aristotle Zurr-McIntyre, Adam falls for Lilyanne, who reciprocates his feelings. But all is not well. Adam learns men are hunting him, possibly for some sort of experiment. Meanwhile, the novel gradually introduces additional characters whose ties to Adam aren’t immediately known: German geneticist Dr. Richard Bonn; Lilyanne’s father, Mark, and her gravely ill mother; and an enigmatic, dangerous individual called the Wisher. It’s fairly clear Adam is in peril; there’s a proficient hit man who may be targeting him. Though Adam is seemingly impervious to death, his reawakenings lead him to question his identity.

Mikheyev’s story is, perhaps unsurprisingly, often surreal. Adam, for example, is just as perplexed as readers will be by his post-gunshot reappearances. These only get gradually more bizarre, like when he wakes up gripping a revolver not knowing how it got there. Nevertheless, the author slowly and satisfyingly answers many puzzling questions, including the intentions of mysterious characters. Dr. Bonn is indeed conducting an experiment with a definite purpose that not only connects to Adam but ties other characters together as well. Mikheyev ensures that Adam’s frequent reawakenings aren’t muddled or confusing; he hears his mother singing whenever he returns from “death.” Though Adam claims to be a romantic, he’s not always convincing. His opening line to Lilyanne (and her friend)—“Do any of you two beauties know what time it is?”—is lame. Adam’s love poetry, however, is simple and effective: “With arms strong, and shoulders stronger, / I wrap myself in / summer / scents / of a blossomed you.” Mikheyev also provides evocative descriptions, like the moon “dropping slivers of silver and white on [a] sad face” or inebriated friends prompting “glass-breaking, fist-swinging madness and pandemonium.” The novel’s latter half is more intense since Adam’s reawakenings become progressively more disorienting. The final act feels a bit rushed with sudden time jumps, but the concluding scene is sublime.

An engaging, complex thriller about an unusual man’s search for love and answers.
(author’s note, acknowledgements, author bio)

Pub Date: yesterday

ISBN: 978-0-578-77914-0

Page Count: 259

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2020





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