“I Am No One” (Tim Duggan Books), by Patrick Flanery
Why would anyone want to spy on Jeremy O’Keefe? After all, he tells the reader, “I am no one,” just a history professor who recently returned to America after a decade teaching in England. But Jeremy can’t shake the feeling that he’s being watched.
First, his computer is hacked. Then he spots a man in a ski mask standing on the sidewalk below his apartment, staring at his window. Next, he receives a series of parcels filled with paper records of every website he has visited, every email he has sent, every phone call he has made.
Jeremy doesn’t know if the parcels are a threat or a warning; but someone, it seems, has taken an unnatural interest in him. Or, maybe, family members suggest, he’s suffering from a paranoid delusion.
At first, this makes Jeremy doubt his sanity, but gradually he begins to reconstruct his past, searching for what he could have done to warrant the attention of a spymaster capable of unearthing his secrets.
“I Am No One” reads like a collaboration between spy novelist John le Carre and Franz Kafka, the early 20th-century master of alienation and existential anxiety. It’s at once a beautifully written slow-motion thriller, an unnerving story of fear and paranoia, and a cautionary tale about the perils of spy satellites, security cameras and electronic surveillance by faceless government bureaucrats.
“A country without privacy,” one character declares, “is a country without freedom.”
Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”