Nathan Besser’s Man in the Corner was released officially yesterday, yet it’s already set to be scripted into a major film by Australian acting duo Rebecca Rigg and Simon Baker (best known for The Mentalist). Psychological thrillers have flooded bookshop shelves recently – but is Besser offering us something more?
Man in the Corner
Best known for his short stories, Nathan Besser’s debut novel is a fascinating tale that begins with a scandalous confession and finishes on a similar note. Years into her marriage with David, Leah divulges her past work as a prostitute. David’s response to his wife’s revelation is more interesting than the admission itself; he is supportive and shows compassion towards Leah. Foregoing any interrogation, David seems strangely unaffected by Leah’s statements. But shortly after Leah’s confession, David collapses at his family home and once he wakes from brain surgery, a different David seems to appear. The once stable, predictable business-owner becomes restless and actively seeks to revolutionise his relatively comfortable life.
After hastily selling his business with no clear plans, David meets a curious and charismatic man named Ben. Together, Ben and David embark on a scheme that is both lucrative and unlawful. The venture sees David’s life merge with Ben’s as they heavily rely on one another to successfully execute their con. Meticulously assuming another man’s identity, David starts to question Ben’s motives, and a link forms between Leah’s confession and the shifts in David’s life.
Besser convincingly alters the reader’s initial idea of David as a straight-laced family man as the depths of the character’s psyche is revealed. Imbued with social commentary and based in what must be familiar Sydney suburbs for Besser, Man In The Corner is a brilliant read that can be most clearly described as a psychological thriller. Yet, there’s more here. The opinions and values of the characters had a lasting impact on my own way of thinking. While ‘psychological thriller’ is an apt description of Man in the Corner, it is also part thought experiment.
4.5/5 – Vintage $32.99
Reviewed by Amy Bennett-Simeon