Bad Twin

by Gary Troup

A disclaimer: I do not watch "Lost." I missed the first couple of
episodes and simply never caught up. An oversimplification of the
plot is that a passenger plane, Oceanic Flight 815, crashes on or
near a mysterious island and the survivors have all sorts of weird
things happen to them. One of the passengers, author Gary Troup,
apparently has been mentioned on the show but has yet to make an
appearance on the island. Anyway, BAD TWIN purports to be Troup's
last novel. There may be all sorts of in-jokes, clues and maybe
even plot hints that fans of the program will get, but if there
are, I don't know about them. I can only judge this book on its own
merits, and from that standpoint, this is a fine novel

I have no idea who really wrote BAD TWIN, though parts of it read
like Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block while other parts put me in
the mind of Don Bruns. It begins with a private investigator named
Paul Artisan, who keeps body and soul together doing insurance and
divorce investigations while working out of a seedy little office
in New York. Artisan is flummoxed, to say the least, when he is
retained by Clifford Widmore to locate Clifford's twin. The Widmore
family is very rich, and Clifford is prepared to pay Artisan
handsomely if he can locate Zander Widmore, who has been missing
for some four months.

Zander has done this before, but Clifford insists that this time is
different. It seems that Zander's disappearance was preceded by a
family argument in which Arthur, the twins' father, and Vivian,
their remarkably preserved stepmother, also participated. It is
Arthur who really wants Zander found; the search becomes a crusade,
an obsession, for Artisan, who traces Zander to Key West, Havana,
California, and then halfway around the world, always a step or two
behind his quarry. People who talk to Artisan subsequently seem to
wind up dead, always by an apparent accident.

We come to know Artisan while he pursues Zander, and there are some
nice vignettes featuring pithy conversations between him and an
elderly professor who seems to be his only friend. Artisan acquires
a romantic interest along the way, in the sudden
life-comes-at-you-fast manner that occurs in novels, but Troup
makes it realistic and accordingly all the more quietly erotic.
Things almost get sorted out in the end, and it's almost
bittersweet because, after all, this is Troup's last novel.

If you have not read BAD TWIN because you're unfamiliar with
"Lost," you're missing a great mystery. You don't need to know a
thing about the program, or even about Troup, to enjoy this
well-written, well-plotted work. BAD TWIN can be read, and enjoyed,
entirely on its own merits. Recommended.


Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010

Bad Twin
by Gary Troup

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • ISBN-10: 1401302769
  • ISBN-13: 9781401302764