The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

 Years after surviving a brutal attack while riding her bicycle in college, Laurel Estabrook retreats into a world that includes only a few trusted friends, her swimming routine, and the familiarity of her work at a homeless shelter.

When a former patron of the shelter named Bobbie Crocker dies leaving behind a box of negatives, Laurel is charged with the task of developing the film and creating an inventory for a show to benefit the shelter.

Laurel, an amateur photographer herself, recognizes at once the quality of the work and the prominence of the subjects. Who was this man who photographed everyone from presidents to movie stars? How did he end up homeless? Laurel soon becomes obsessed with finding the answers to these questions.

Among the box of negatives are a few old family snapshots taken in front of a home, which Laurel feels sure she recognizes as a place she used to go swimming as a girl. Could this man, Bobbie Crocker, actually be the prodigal son of the wealthy Buchannan family? And to what lengths might they go to protect the family name from embarrassment?

As Laurel begins to develop the film, she is startled to discover several shots of a woman resembling herself riding a bicycle through the woods. She recognizes the trail as the scene of her attack and begins to wonder if she might be the woman in the photographs. Why was Bobbie Crocker taking pictures of her? What is this man’s connection to her?

Her quest for answers will ultimately bring her face to face again with one of her attackers. But is she ready to face the truth of what happened to her all those years ago?

Christopher Bohjalian crafts a novel that is at once suspenseful and introspective. The characters are all fully realized and completely believable. Readers will also be delighted and intrigued by the many references to people, places and events of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Several revelations made towards the end of the story may change your perception of characters and events. So much so, that you may not be able to resist the urge to read it again in a new light. An excellent choice for book clubs, and readers who appreciate complex characters.

Other books by Chris Bohjalian:

  • The Light in the Ruins
  • The Sandcastle Girls
  • The Night Strangers
  • Secrets of Eden
  • Skeletons at the Feast
  • Before You Know Kindness
  • The Buffalo Soldier
  • Midwives
  • The Law of Similars
  • Trans-Sister Radio
  • Water Witches
  • Past the Bleachers

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