Ed King

When a book's title is a character's name and it's as transparent as "King," we know we're about to meet an egotistical, powerful man. If he doesn't appear within the first 60 pages, that heightens the anticipation--what's the connection between an au pair's affair with her boss to somebody named King?

David Guterson masterfully braids the au pair and the boss and Ed King and his family into a novel spanning decades, from the 1960s through a Ray Bradbury-esque 2017, and a few key Pacific Northwest locations, cultivating a sense of impending, doomed intersection among all the strands.

Characters' stories emerge in separate chapters, and the back-and-forth format has a flow--each subject change offers more clues in the drama, hints at how each choice will lead to the unsavory climax. The Oedipal theme, even reset in the high-tech boom of the Silicon Valley and Seattle, is obvious, underscored by Guterson's note to readers that functions like a Greek chorus. The novel's details of time and place are meticulous: fashion, landmarks, pop culture and news headlines confirm the eras, while the near-future years are suitably fantastical. As founder of a multibillion-dollar search-engine corporation--think Microsoft, Apple and Google combined--Ed King's hubris is finally earned, but "Cybil," his programmed assistant, ironically gets the last, tragic, word.

Guterson, best known for his first novel, Snow Falling on Cedars, offers a bold, sweeping story of pride, entitlement, greed and futuristic doom. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, bookseller

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