Stranger in a strange body
Strange Bodies: A Novel by Marcel Theroux (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26)
British novelist Marcel Theroux’s fifth novel, Strange Bodies, is an Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets A.S. Byatt’s Possession, in that it’s got elements of a sci-fi novel trapped in a literary mystery, or perhaps vice versa.
Impoverished literary scholar Nicholas Slopen is asked—for a princely sum—to authenticate some recently-discovered papers that supposedly belong to the legendary Dr. Samuel Johnson, in whose work Slopen is an expert. He finds that, yes, they’re Johnson’s work, in his hand—but that’s impossible, since the paper and materials used to write the works are too modern.
Very quickly, Slopen wakes up in the body of a convicted criminal, on the trail of a far-ranging conspiracy that puts the souls of dead people into enslaved human bodies.
Equal parts thriller and horror, Strange Bodies fits nicely—and pleasurably—into the category of literary speculative fiction.