I realize I have told you this story, but it bears mentioning again I think, because it is dear. At the UCF Book Festival, I attended a panel that featured murder mystery writers, including the author of "Delirious", Daniel Palmer. I was intrigued by the man. He was handsome, he was the son of a famous author (Michael Palmer), and he had a very easy, likable personality. But in the middle of his talk, he spoiled the ending of his upcoming book, and I was horrified! I said so in my recap of the festival, and it didn't go unnoticed by Mr. Palmer. He contacted me, was terribly sorry (he'd gotten carried away when he was talking about unpredictable villains), and as an apology, he sent me a copy of his debut novel, "Delirious". I'd heard it was good...and I didn't know how THIS book ended! Which is a good start.
Synopsis: Charlie Giles has got the tiger by the tail. He is an electronics wonderboy, has made his millions by selling his cutting edge concept to a large company on the East Coast, and has his loyal dog Monte to keep him company.
OK, granted, he has a hard time with long-term relationships. This might have something to do with his self-absorbed nature, and because of problems in his childhood. His father, a schizophrenic, walked away from the family when Charlie was young, leaving him, his mother and his brother, who was diagnosed with not only schizophrenia as well, but with a rare type of epilepsy that is triggered by hearing one particular song.
One day, however, things get very strange. Charlie is accused (and there is proof) that he gave company secrets to a competitor and watches porn at work. He finds notes that he's written to himself but has no recollection of it. Then bodies start to pile up that implicate his involvement. Charlie feels like he is losing his mind. Is he developing a mental illness, which could be inherited, or is someone messing with him?
My thoughts: Wow. Well, now, that was a wild ride. In fact, it really almost bordered on outlandish. So many bizarre, mind-bending, surreal coincidences, I just shook my head. I kept muttering to myself "there had damn well be a full accounting by the end of this book or Palmer is going to lose his credibility with me". By that I mean that everything had better be explained. This could not have been an easy task...I'm envisioning an elaborate spreadsheets and Gant charts. But he pulled it off. Was it all realistic? No, but I was more than willing to stretch the boundaries for the sake of entertainment.
Palmer's pacing was excellent. The beginning starts out as a leisurely stroll for a few chapters, then it takes off like a rocket and propels you through right to the last page. It was really hard to resist the urge to sit up all night to finish it.
I always appreciate a novel that introduces the reader to a topic of interest, in this case mental illness. Palmer not only gives us an idea of what it is like to live with schizophrenia through Charlie's brother, but also the sacrifices and hardships shouldered by the surrounding family members. I was also more than a little excited to see, for the second time in my life, a story that addresses the rare musicogenic epilepsy (the first time being Connie May Fowler's "The Problem With Murmur Lee"). This disease only affects five or six people in the country, but here it is again. I can't say that I blame Connie or Daniel...it is an affliction that just begs to be written into a story.
At the festival, Palmer shared a story about the development of the character Charlie. When he originally finished this novel, everyone liked the book but felt the protagonist was a horrible person that would inspire nothing but annoyance in the reader. The solution, provided by a friend over a beer and a hotdog at a baseball game, was to give Charlie a dog. I thought this was a clever suggestion...who can resist a guy who is loved by his dog? After finishing the book however, even without the dog, I didn't think Charlie was so bad. He was kind of an anti-hero, which I have a habit of liking. Yes he was selfish and tended to live for his job, but I saw a good deal of personal growth on his part and felt there was hope for him. (I'm still pleased Palmer gave him a dog though!)
4 out of 5 stars