Brooklyn Bugle Book Club: “Bedbugs” by Ben H. Winters

October 21, 2011

We normally think of Brooklyn Heights as an idyllic haven from the challenges of New York City life, tucked away as we are in a corner between hip Williamsburgh and staid Manhattan. And that’s what Alex, a photographer, and Susan, a recovering lawyer who would rather be an artist, the main characters in Ben H. Winters’ entertaining new novel, think when they move with their three-year-old daughter to a lovely duplex on Cranberry Street. They spend time skittering around the beautiful tree-lined neighborhood streets, crawling through all the playgrounds, and sampling local restaurants. They are itching to know their new neighbors, most notably the landlady, Andrea, and her handyman, Louis.

But things are not quite what they seem. Susan becomes convinced that the dream apartment harbors bedbugs. Her skin becomes cracked and infected, while Alex and their daughter remain untouched. An exterminator finds no sign of infestation. Susan tries to solve the problem herself,  sending out sticky probes to the previous tenants and lurking on bedbugs websites. Understandably, Alex thinks Susan has lost her mind.

“Bedbugs” is a gothic novel (among Winters’ previous work is the novel “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters”) convincingly moved to our time and our neighborhood. It has a refreshingly modern take and while I can’t give away the outcome the story had me in its pincers start to finish.

I couldn’t read this book before going to bed! Would you? Use the comments to let us know what you think.

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