A literary thriller in which a former rich kid, now fleeing from the emotional and financial fallout from his brother's death, accepts an old friend's offer to stay with him and his entourage on the beautiful and mysterious Greek island of Patmos, where things take a dark turn.
Sharp imagery and incisive descriptions bring to life both the Greek island of Patmos and the moneyed class laying claim to it ... violence occasionally punctuates this otherwise leisurely plot. A burst of mayhem closes the tour de force prologue, and another pair of bodies appears nearly 200 pages later. But the tension in Ian’s own story is more existential...The suspense here is less high-speed chases or chapter-ending cliffhangers than something out of Patricia Highsmith — hardly a complaint ... Ultimately, the destroyers aren’t men in balaclavas, but something interior, more insidious: the secrets you carry.
Evoking a seductive mood of longing mixed with regret, The Destroyers is an impressive literary thriller. It honors the genre’s implicit guarantee of murder while balancing any shortcomings in action with stylistic panache and psychological insight ... Chief among this book’s pleasures are the crisp, cleareyed registrations of Greece that seem to trip off Bollen’s fingertips at will ... Bollen is just as good at sketching the essence of a character with a phrase or two ... Despite its sleek, Patricia Highsmith surface, The Destroyers does occasionally overreach its grasp. The title refers to a game invented by Ian and Charlie (involving imaginary killers in black balaclavas), but Bollen’s attempts to turn it into a master metaphor feel clumsy ... Still, Bollen demonstrates a generally sure hand with the thriller’s death-propelled events, which frees him to explore afresh certain timely (and timeless) themes: the constraints on friendship in adulthood, the double-edged sword of money in its scabbard of family, and — especially — the weightless coming to terms with no longer being young.
As a masterful example of the form, it comes as no surprise that Christopher Bollen’s The Destroyers not only knows exactly what it is—a slow-burning literary thriller—but also revels in it. The Destroyers is built of a tension almost sexual in its luxuriousness; it’s all gleaming seas and waxed wooden decks, the warmth of burned flesh and vodka, the metallic taste of blood and lucre, with the effortless indomitability of a yacht bobbing along a bleached-bone dock ... Availing himself to as romantic a backdrop as one could ever hope—not only the island itself, rich with ruin and religion and, well, riches, but also the twin eddies of the Greek economic crash and the Mediterranean refugee crisis—Bollen’s writing echoes both Patmos and the famous words brought up from its core. Sun-blasted prose is pocked with marvelous turns of phrase, and his pawns twist, flay and leak acid like lemons. Every painful and sexy and mysterious moment proves alluringly repulsive, like the heat—from behind designer sunglasses—of the vacation sun…or the end of the world.