Before the lockdown for Covid-19 hit a couple of years ago, I went to the library and checked out a bunch of books that I thought might be interesting. Included in that pile was Katie Henry’s Heretics Anonymous. I was completely hooked on the story and quickly reserved her next novel, only to be equally enthralled by it.
And so it was that Katie Henry went onto the list of authors who I will read anything they publish.
With her fourth novel, Gideon Green in Black and White, Henry has hit a new high. Sixteen-year-old Gideon Green is a retired private detective, content to stay in his room watching noir films on his TV and occasionally coming out to go to school and interact with his dad. When his old friend, Lily, shows up at this door asking him to come out of retirement, Gideon is reluctantly pulled into an investigation that is bigger than either he or Lily imagined and that just might be a pivotal point for him.
As with her previous protagonists, Henry invests Gideon with deep-seated humanity that makes him instantly and completely identifiable. As Gideon grows over the course of the novel — joining the school paper, falling in like with the editor, arguing with his dead, realizing the investigation could land him and Lily in hot water but refusing to back down — there are moments of utter delight and utter headbreak. Gideon is both relatable and frustrating at the same time — in other words, pretty much like most of us were as teenagers. The biggest compliment I can pay this novel is that while the central mystery is resolved by the final page and I was completely satisfied to have gone on this journey with Gideon, I couldn’t help but want to spend a bit more time with Gideon. Like life, the novel doesn’t have all the answers in the final pages nor is everything wrapped up with a neat bow at the end.
The supporting cast is also a delight — from Lily who was once Gideon’s best friend but fell off when Gideon seemed stuck in a rut to Tess, the newspaper editor who steals Gideon’s heart. However, it’s the strained relationship between Gideon and his father where the true center of this novel lies. Henry gets us to invest in both Gideon and his father, two very different people who might not be as different as they think they are. There were multiple points in conversations between Gideon and his dad that I had a lump in my throat as Henry nails the complex relationship between these two.
This is a stand-alone novel, but I wouldn’t mind if Henry decided to bring us back to Gideon’s world again in the future.
Easily one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year and an early finalist for my top ten books of 2022. Highly recommended.
I received a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.