Who is Maud Dixon?

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Another book picked off the New York Times' Best Mystery Novels of 2021. Yes, I know we're well into 2023. I'm working on it.

It's unusually difficult to report on this book without spoilers. In fact, I self-spoiled. In order to use my Reading Schedule Generator, I needed to get the ending page number. I accidentally saw the last line on that last page! Well, crap. I should be more careful. If you're going to read it, I suggest you avoid looking at the last page, or back-cover blurbs, book flaps, reviews… just go to page one and start.

Who is Maud Dixon? Page 11 spoiler: it's the pseudonym of a reclusive author whose first novel, Mississippi Foxtrot, was a blockbuster a couple years back. It's unknown (even) what sex "Maud" is.

Another question while we're at it: why did the NYT consider this book to be a mystery? It takes a while for that to become clear.

In spite of the spoilage, I enjoyed the book quite a bit. It follows young Florence Darrow, working in a low-level job at a New York publishing company. After a mysterious prologue set in a foreign hospital, we're introduced to a woman who's insecure, lacking self-esteem, and kind of self-delusional. She wants to be a writer, but keeps making excuses as to why she's not actually writing anything. What's obvious to the reader is mystifying to Florence.

At first this is played for laughs. (At least I was amused.) But then it gets kind of creepy. And then it gets really creepy. And then (soon enough) it gets dangerous and murdery. Hang in there.

Last Modified 2024-01-11 2:59 PM EDT