The Shards: A novel (Paperback)
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NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A novel of sensational literary and psychological suspense from the best-selling author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho that tracks a group of privileged high school friends in a vibrantly fictionalized 1980s Los Angeles as a serial killer strikes across the city
“A thrilling page turner from Ellis, who revisits the world that made him a literary star with a stylish scary new story that doesn't disappoint.” –Town & Country
Bret Easton Ellis’s masterful new novel is a story about the end of innocence, and the perilous passage from adolescence into adulthood, set in a vibrantly fictionalized Los Angeles in 1981 as a serial killer begins targeting teenagers throughout the city.
Seventeen-year-old Bret is a senior at the exclusive Buckley prep school when a new student arrives with a mysterious past. Robert Mallory is bright, handsome, charismatic, and shielding a secret from Bret and his friends even as he becomes a part of their tightly knit circle. Bret’s obsession with Mallory is equaled only by his increasingly unsettling preoccupation with the Trawler, a serial killer on the loose who seems to be drawing ever closer to Bret and his friends, taunting them—and Bret in particular—with grotesque threats and horrific, sharply local acts of violence. The coincidences are uncanny, but they are also filtered through the imagination of a teenager whose gifts for constructing narrative from the filaments of his own life are about to make him one of the most explosive literary sensations of his generation. Can he trust his friends—or his own mind—to make sense of the danger they appear to be in? Thwarted by the world and by his own innate desires, buffeted by unhealthy fixations, he spirals into paranoia and isolation as the relationship between the Trawler and Robert Mallory hurtles inexorably toward a collision.
Set against the intensely vivid and nostalgic backdrop of pre-Less Than Zero L.A., The Shards is a mesmerizing fusing of fact and fiction, the real and the imagined, that brilliantly explores the emotional fabric of Bret’s life at seventeen—sex and jealousy, obsession and murderous rage. Gripping, sly, suspenseful, deeply haunting, and often darkly funny, The Shards is Ellis at his inimitable best.
About the Author
BRET EASTON ELLIS is the author of six novels, a collection of essays, and a collection of stories, which have been translated into thirty-two languages. He lives in Los Angeles and is the host of the Bret Easton Ellis Podcast available on Patreon.
“Ellis is a true literary craftsman, and the novel’s imagery is lush and gorgeous . . . there is an exciting new vulnerability in Ellis’s latest book, inviting the reader more profoundly into the emotional realm of the protagonist than he has with his previous characters.” —The New York Times Book Review
“It’s been a dozen years since Bret Easton Ellis published a novel. And his latest, The Shards . . . is worth the wait. Hermetic, paranoid, sleek, dark—and with brief explosions of the sex and violence that have characterized Ellis’ oeuvre—The Shards is a stark reminder that the American Psycho author is a genre unto himself.” —NPR
“Cleverly done . . . eerie . . . The Shards establishes a tricky two-step of sincerity and unreliability.” —The Wall Street Journal
“The teen narrator is perversely endearing, through the sheer force of his striving and unreliability . . . Here, for sure, is a horror story of the 80s.” —Air Mail
"A thrilling page turner from Ellis, who revisits the world that made him a literary star with a stylish scary new story that doesn't disappoint.” –Town & Country
“[Ellis] ups the ante in several ways: he depicts a lavish lifestyle fueled by money and privilege, explores his own fluid sexuality (and that of some of his friends), and adds a lurid story of home invasions and murders (one victim is a high school friend). In effect, he mashes up Less Than Zero with American Psycho . . . As Ellis explores the theme of lost innocence, he demonstrates his skill as a storyteller.” –Publishers Weekly
"A surprisingly seductive work of erotic horror . . . [Ellis] ably captures how Bret’s paranoia intensifies out of that emotional distance and how the urge for feeling and connection infects and warps his personality. Bret Ellis the character is trying to play it cool, but Bret Easton Ellis the author knows just how much he’s covering up.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Breathtaking . . . a compulsively readable novel informed by suspense . . . The setting is beautifully realized not only by its evocation of place, but also by its myriad references to popular music of the day. Sometimes horrifying, sometimes nostalgic and even poignant, Ellis’s latest is an unqualified success.” –Booklist [Starred Review]