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"Intimate, mysterious, magical...as accomplished and compelling as anything I've read in recent years." --T.C. Boyle, award-winning author of The Harder They Come
"Beautifully conceived and beautifully written...rendered with a strong, confident voice that is so rare in a first novel." --Percival Everett, award-winning author of Assumption
Already struggling to keep their tiny congregation afloat, two Mormon missionaries stationed in the dangerous Latin American neighborhood of Vila Barbosa suspect the worst when Marco Aurelio, a man they recently baptized, disappears from a crowded street market. When the neighborhood's corrupt police force shows no interest, Elder Toronto and Elder Schwartz decide to investigate Marco Aurelio's disappearance themselves.
Breaking mission rule after mission rule, the elders doggedly pursue any clues that might lead them to their friend. As they interview the people who knew him--his short-tempered, bodybuilding brother; his gun-toting ex-wife; his mercurial former business partner--a tangled portrait emerges of an enigmatic con artist in over his head. At the edges of the investigation lurks a shadowy, mythical figure known only as the Argentine, a man who poses an increasingly dire threat to the two young missionaries as they plunge recklessly forward.
Tim Wirkus' City of Brick and Shadow is a fantastically fun ride, recasting the classic buddy-cop dynamic in a pair of hapless young missionaries; a gripping and unconventional mystery along the lines of The Yiddish Policemen's Union or Motherless Brooklyn.
About the Author
Tim Wirkus is a doctoral candidate in the University of Southern California's creative writing and literature program. His short fiction has appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Subtropics, Cream City Review, Weird Fiction Review, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. His novella Sandy Downs won the 2013 Quarterly West novella contest. This is his first novel.
"The narrative flows simply...interspersed with the fascinating...folklore describing The Argentine's reign in Vila Barbosa.... An absorbing mental exercise...for the most jaded armchair detectives...guaranteed to spark delicious book-group debates." --Booklist, Starred Review
"Tim Wirkus' City of Brick and Shadow is a brilliant debut novel.... Wirkus...emerges here as a formidable talent--the kind of writer who...combines wicked verbal felicity with an amused eye for human behavior." --The Daily Pilot
"Deftly written, smoothly complex, exceptionally well crafted...solidly entertaining.... .Establishes Tim Wirkus as a novelist of exceptional talent and remarkable storytelling skills. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections." --Midwest Book Review
"[This] captivating tale is wonderfully written, with plenty of familiar missionary banter mingled with the young men's relentless and at times dangerous quest for answers." --UtahValley360