Roger Prumont, a sixty-year-old American facing an existential crisis, leaves his crumbling family and job to test his mathematical theory that he believes could predict mass shootings. He moves from city to city, staying in motels, following the clues that he gathers from the theory, hoping to end it all with a big bang. Does his theory actually work, or is it just a broken mind's final attempt to regain its meaning and redeem itself?
The Prumont Method is the upcoming second novel by Trevor Houser. I received an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. A strong existential drama laced with black comedy, it explores the devolution of the American dream and its descent towards self-destruction and mass shootings. The story is told from the point of view of its protagonist, Roger Prumont, who is your regular guy living the regular life until he isn't. The jolt was sufficient for him to re-evaluate his choices and set forth on the Quixotic journey.
The novel is narrated in a refreshingly unique form—as snippets of the protagonist's thoughts. Like a quantum experiment, you get bombarded by small passages containing his musings: descriptions of his actions, observations of his past, present, and future, affection for his daughter, and despise for all others. There are references to many famous mathematicians and mass killers and how elements of their lives are akin to or unlike his. Also included are recipes for various cocktails, which Prumont, being a cocktail enthusiast, prepares and consumes on the move.
The Prumont Method is as poignant a description of a despondent man who considers himself failed as it is an insight into the psychology behind spurts of sudden violence that hurt innocents. The novel pits two entities, a man who is desperate to locate the site of violence and a nameless person who is getting ready to commit it, against each other. The novel asserts that both are products of the same systemic decay that tries to subdue the dreams of greatness and force a life of mediocrity. The breakdown of the structures of society in shambles makes an otherwise unassuming entity fall into the pit of despair and then attempt any final resort, either to end itself or the society that it finds itself in.
Trevor Houser successfully does a balancing act and concocts a suspenseful story with deeply sympathetic character portrayals and a heavy dose of black comedy that is relevant to the times that we live in. The Prumont Method achieves the distinction of being delightful and profound simultaneously.