The Executor - Jesse Kellerman
Nothing seems to be going right for graduate student Joseph Geist. His thesis is going nowhere, his girlfriend’s kicked him out, and he’s lost all his funding. Desperate to make some money, Joseph responds to a mysterious ad in the university paper seeking a “conversationalist.” Upon meeting Alma Spielmann, the elderly placer of the ad, Joseph believes he’s found a kindred spirit. When he’s asked to move in, Joseph becomes determined to hold onto life with his intellectual soulmate for himself, especially from Alma’s greedy grandnephew Eric.

The Executor is not a mystery or thriller in the traditional sense. The cover copy may lead the reader to expect a sinister purpose behind the ad, or perhaps some mystery surrounding Joseph’s new benefactor. However, Kellerman’s story is much more psychological, focusing on Joseph’s descent into paranoia and possessiveness, building off the protagonists own philosophy background.

Joseph, the narrator, is living every grad student’s worst nightmare; I myself often fear a similar future with no thesis, no degree, and no job. After he answers the ad, it seems that things might finally work out for Joseph. It becomes apparent to the reader that this will not be the case, however, as Joseph’s mental degradation is evident to the reader as the story progresses.

The actual “thriller” portions of the novel occur only towards the end of the novel, when Joseph commits an unexpected act. The perspective briefly switches at this point,putting the reader in the mind of criminal. It’s very well done, and the stream of consciousness ramblings make for some extremely suspenseful reading.

The Executor is definitely a unique story, and in the end Joseph gets what he wants in a very unexpected way. Readers expecting a traditional mystery may be disappointed, but The Executor makes for a very interesting read.

A review copy was provided by the publisher.