“After She Wrote Him” Sulari Gentill is a story of a writer, a mystery writer, and the characters who come to life on the pages of her book. Madeleine d’Leon was a lawyer. She had always wanted to be a writer, and so she wrote a book, this book. In fact, this is a book within a book, the one she is writing and the one about her writing the book, and readers experience both. The author and the characters she writes weave in and out blurring the distinction between a book of fiction and the fiction in a book. Characters talk to each other and talk about each other. They discuss characters that should be introduced by the writer, and then those characters suddenly appear in written scenes. Readers follow one person who is created by another person and interact with both, wondering who is guiding and who is following.
Gentill puts readers right into the process of writing and creating a mystery, choosing victims, planting clues, and uncovering perpetrators. The silent walls between reader, writer, and characters crash down. This is a new type of narrator, not unreliable, but in fact doing exactly what is written; it is the writer who is unreliable. I received a review copy of “After She Wrote Him” from Sulari Gentill and Poisoned Pen Press. It does require some attention to detail to remember the role of each character, but it was stimulating, unpredictable, and unique.