Review

Person of Interest

by Theresa Schwegel

Theresa Schwegel is frighteningly good. There is no other way
to say it. She came out of the gate with OFFICER DOWN, a debut
novel that continues to draw accolades and new readers some two
years later. PROBABLE CAUSE, published in late December 2006,
showed no hint of a sophomore slump or reticence, demonstrating a
strong, confident tone that resonates long after the final sentence
is read. Now, not even a year later, Schwegel favors us with PERSON
OF INTEREST, which arguably is her best work to date.

The book is equal parts crime novel and domestic tragedy, a puzzle
of parts that interlock so exquisitely that, after one has finished
reading this work, it is hard to resist immediately delving into it
again, in order to precisely examine how Schwegel accomplished what
she did. PERSON OF INTEREST is not so much about one person as it
is about a family. All of the McHughs --- Craig, husband and
father; Leslie, wife and mother; and Ivy, teenaged daughter --- are
unhappy with their lives and each other. Craig is an undercover cop
who is so deep into his role --- infiltrating an Asian gang as a
hapless gambler --- that he is unable to trust anyone with
anything, even his own wife. Leslie has trust issues of her own,
exacerbated by money inexplicably missing from the joint bank
account she keeps with Craig and a cryptic message on a matchbook
in Craig's pocket. Ivy, meanwhile, is keeping late hours with an
unknown boyfriend who her parents would never approve of, even as
Leslie, lonely and seeking comfort, finds herself being oddly and
improbably attracted to a young jazz musician who is in Ivy's
orbit.

The secret lives of the McHughs begin to draw them catastrophically
and ironically together on a collision course that is almost sure
to destroy them individually and collectively. The only thing that
will save them, physically and spiritually, is the truth --- yet it
is the truth that also risks destroying them. I cannot overstate
how well Schwegel constructs PERSON OF INTEREST, the way the
characters put themselves in such disadvantaged positions --- and
not in spite of their best efforts, but because of them. It takes a
terrible and violent act for Craig to break the freefall that he
and his family find themselves in, but it's this very act that will
bring the greatest risk to him and the person in whom he has put
his trust.

Schwegel's cinematic, kaleidoscopic point of view brings a
breathtaking vantage point to her work in general and to PERSON OF
INTEREST in particular. At points in the narrative, one can only
hang on and take a deep breath, sympathizing with the characters in
knowing that, even though the best that can happen may not be very
good at all, it is still worth struggling for.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 18, 2011

Person of Interest
by Theresa Schwegel

  • Publication Date: November 27, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312364261
  • ISBN-13: 9780312364267