searching under the streetlamp
We can’t help wondering: is the amateur detective rehearsing her own life or actually using it as a model for the crime? Who is she keeping things from–us, or herself? What does she know that she isn’t telling? What doesn’t she know she knows? Is some loop of the epistemic bowel about to split and deluge not just the reader but the narrator? From the off there’s nothing solid here, except a piece of paper with some writing on it, found in the woods while the dog is walked. It could be evidence of something. In and of itself, it isn’t evidence of anything: it’s less than hearsay, it has no provable connection so far to anything in the world. Exactly as it is, with its constant slippage between imaginary events and misinterpretations of real ones–all the delusional threats (the bland police officer, the storekeeper with the shot-up face), the nightmares, the odd behaviour that isn’t–Ottessa Moshfegh’s blackly comic examination of the detective story would make a superb Netflix series. The detective is in her eighties. She never gets further than a quarter of a mile into the pinewoods before a shortness of breath sets in. She suspects an allergen. We suspect some kind of innate oppressiveness, external or internal–the blanket mood of a streaming thriller, French, in which the trees mean something but you’re not sure what because you don’t quite feel you can trust whoever translated the subtitles. I loved it. My review of Death In Her Hands at the TLS, on paper or online here (£).