N is employed at a prestigious California university, where he has distinguished himself as an aloof and somewhat eccentric presence. His meticulous, ordered life is violently disrupted by the death of his estranged father—unanticipated and, as it increasingly seems to N, surrounded by murky circumstances.
Reading this bizarre, arresting tale, you may not always feel clear about what you are tracking — but you’ll absolutely want to track it ... The novel’s power and steady control manifest in its voice: that of an eerily inward, single male, perhaps in his 30s, who lives monkishly ... Scapegoat proves difficult to describe without spoiling. Menace gathers. So does a marvelously calibrated pace and tension. As with some of our best haunted fiction (The Turn of the Screw, The Haunting of Hill House), the story obeys an internal, quasi-demonic logic ... breathtakingly seductive: a noir dream watched through a handheld camera.
As our narrator loses his grip on reality, Davis drops her readers into successive scenes so fluidly that even we forget what just happened. I raced through the book, marveling at its precise, restrained prose and grasping paranoiacally at small details that might indicate what was real and what wasn’t.
Continuing with the increasingly unreliable N, the reader feels inklings of vertigo, the ground rumbling underfoot in this psychological thriller ... Within her haunting landscape and propulsive plot, she manages to introduce some morbid humor ... In these narrative gyres, Davis emerges as a legitimately skillful novelist unafraid to ask difficult questions.