Martyn Bedford

Identity Theft

Talk Talk


Bloomsbury 320pp £10.99 order from our bookshop

It’s no big deal: you’re running late for a dental appointment, you jump a ‘stop’ sign and, as bad luck would have it, a police car pulls you over. You apologise, show your ID. At worst, he’ll issue a ticket; at best, you’ll be let off with a caution. But no, what the cop does is draw his gun, cuff you and run you in to the station, where you’re charged with a whole crop of crimes and banged up in a cell with assorted urban no-goods. This is the grab-you-by-the-throat opening to a new novel by one of America’s finest storytellers, T C Boyle (when did the Coraghessan get reduced to a ‘C’? I liked Coraghessan). His heroine, Dana Halter, can only believe it’s a case of mistaken identity which will soon be cleared up. Unfortunately for her, she’s the victim of something far more complicated and disturbing: identity theft. She may be innocent of the charges, but the crime was perpetrated by someone who has skimmed, indeed assumed, her ID as a front for his criminal scams. It doesn’t help that Dana is profoundly deaf, which adds layers of confusion to an already befuddled police interrogation. After a couple of days in jail and a court appearance, she is finally set free, her innocence established. But Dana is degraded, humiliated, furious; with no help forthcoming from the police, she is determined to track down the ‘thief’ herself and reclaim that most intangible of properties: her identity.

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