The Mirror’s Edge by Steven Sidor

The Mirror’s Edge

by Steven Sidor

Published by St. Martin’s Minotaur

287 pages, 2008






Twin Sweep

Reviewed by David Thayer

Steven Sidor’s latest novel, The Mirror’s Edge, slips the reader more than a few Mickey Finns before its final scenes unfold. Chicago freelance writer Jase Deering is the ideal protagonist for this jarring story; his sweating palms and trembling fingers mask an inner toughness as he embarks on a prolonged and horrifying search for the truth about a mysterious kidnapping. Twin boys vanished in broad daylight from their suburban home. Were they kidnapped or murdered? In either case, Jase understands this kind of loss from personal experience: his older brother vanished in the woods long ago.

Jase introduces himself this way:

Like I said, I’m a freelancer: I’m not a street beat reporter. At the time of the Boyle abduction, I was lucky enough to have a regular gig. As a rule I don’t show up with pen in hand and lean over the yellow police tape trying to get someone to talk to me. No, I get there much later. After the hoopla, the staccato of flashbulbs, the buzz. I go in-depth.

Jase is not kidding about going in-depth. On the fringe of a sensational case he pokes, prods and annoys his way forward. He talks to the detectives assigned to the case, wondering about the missing boys’ stricken parents, Tad and Una Boyle, and the account of their disappearance told by their nanny, Regina Hoffman. Regina let the kidnapper into the house. He posed as a water deliveryman, chatted, and disarmed Regina before pressing a gun to her chest and grabbing the twins.

The more Jase obsesses about the fate of those twins, the more his own life slips toward the precipice of disaster. His significant other, Robyn Matchfrost, is legally blind; however, she’s more capable than Jase of seeing just how his obsession is eroding their relationship. Jase’s eventual encounter with a priest opens a new channel of exploration into an occult-associated family whose patriarch, Aubrey Hart Morick, helped give birth to a son, Graham. The priest accuses Graham Morick of kidnapping the Boyle twins.

On the first anniversary of the boys’ abduction, Jase interviews nanny Regina, describing her appearance this way:

Now I know why she asked to meet outdoors. Regina’s chain smoking, sitting on the edge of a planter. I’m guessing this is a new hobby by the way she’s pulling in these nervous mouthfuls. She’s thin, thin. Her hair is chopped, colored midnight blue -- a sure standout even among her new Goth friends. This is not the young woman of a year ago. Today she’d dressed in blacks and grays, a long frayed skirt, East Indian scarf, red as sin, lashed at her throat. Still Mary Poppins -- but with a razor in her boot.

Regina has a new scar on her thigh, covering up the word MIRRORRIM carved into her flesh. That word is a trigger for the Morick cult, and at this point the novel becomes a battle of wills between Jase Deering and Graham Morick.

Author Sidor blazes through the genre barrier with vibrant ease. Not that he neglects the tropes of the horror-suspense field; but he sustains a tight narrative with Jase’s incredible eye for observation, making each bizarre turn of events plausible and entertaining. This is a novel in which character and plot fuse in a natural progression, a tough, sometimes brutal chain of mayhem that the author controls completely.

Once he realizes that his girlfriend, Robyn, is no longer with him, that she has fallen prey to Morick’s charms, Jase feels compelled to continue an investigation even the police have abandoned:

Forward is the only direction I know. Oh, I have bad days. Days where I wander the streets and guess what? I end up in front of our old building. I see Johnny through the thick plate glass. Watching his TV. I’m like some heartsick teenage kid from a television program -- an old show, black and white, everyone’s hairstyle dating him or her, I’m the kid who throws pebbles at her girl’s window. The girl who jilted him and he’s trying to win her back.

There’s great foreshadowing in that paragraph. In fact, it’s a mini plot summary, inserted with great skill before the story revs to its finish line. The Mirror’s Edge is a not a pebble against the glass, but more like a boulder catapulted by a gifted writer who hits the bulls-eye in scene after scene. This is one of my favorite books of the year. | August 2008


David Thayer is a Seattle freelance writer and author of the blog One More Bite of the Apple. He’s also a published poet, his work having appeared in an anthology as well as literary magazines. Thayer’s novel, The Working Dead, will be published in September 2009 by Iota Publishers.