Good mysteries are never just mysteries. They’re usually a combination of engaging literary fiction with compelling characters, an interesting plot with twists and the skillful layering of several genres, including history, mystery, and, in the case of Bill Ectric‘s novel Tamper, also a dab or two of the paranormal. Whit, the narrator of the novel, is on an expedition to understand his past: a mystery revolving around the dissapearance of his friend, Paul Clemmons. He has an ominous dream about a bag of bones left on the side of the road and engages his friend, Roger, who co-edits their newspaper The Astral Beat, on an investigation that touches upon the paranormal.
Although his psychiatrist, Dr. Carnes, discourages such irrational inquiries, in this novel, like in the hit television series, The X Files, it’s the rational explanations that seem most implausible and the supernatural ones that appear to be the most rational hypotheses to explain an unsettling series of events. Olsen Archer, an endearing and once famous mystery writer past his prime, encourages the young men’s investigations of paranormal events.
While the novel takes readers on a journey filled with mystery and intriguing speculations, it also offers a compelling love story between Whit and his girlfriend Nancy as well as a historical snapshot of a young man’s rite of passage into adulthood during the early seventies. Like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, the secrets of Tamper will keep readers engaged and are worth probing.
Claudia Moscovici, Literaturesalon