Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates Published by The Mysterious Press on May 4, 2015
Andrew J. Rush, “The Gentleman’s Stephen King”, a successful thriller author, secretly writes pulp detective novels, under the pseudonym, Jack of Spades. The writing of Jack and Andrew Rush are polar opposites. Jack’s books are violent pulp reads, while Andrew is fawned over as the “Gentlemen’s Stephen King.” Not only does he use Jack of Spades to hide from the public, he also hides this secret from his wife and children.
Initially, Jack works to Andrew’s advantage, protecting his public image by providing a healthy outlet, until he’s accused of plagiarizing a woman’s work in progress. This crack in Andrew’s persona reveals his much darker side – the Jack of Spades side – who hijacks his personality, revealing long held resentments, guilt, and very dark secrets.
At first, Andrew understands his contrary thoughts and is able to make good decisions. As time goes on, he questions his thoughts. This leaves the reader to ask – Is the creation of Jack a part of the author’s mad genius or has he lost his mind?
I really enjoyed this short, fast paced psychological thriller. Oates’s tight, focused writing kept me guessing as to what was going to happen around each corner. Highly recommended for those who enjoy psychological thriller or horror stories.