Cover image for Split levels : a novel
Split levels : a novel
Rayfiel, Thomas, 1958-
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New York : Simon & Schuster, [1994]

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In his crafty, stylish novel, Rayfiel swirls the people of a vanilla suburb into the vortex of a suspicious death. The deceased's son, Allen Stanley, receives the full brunt of police attentions--as well as attention from women and girls--all of which strikes him as strange, since he hasn't visited his late father's home, or even the suburb, in years. Yet inhabitants from his stomping days remember him, and as he settles his father's affairs--starting by returning Thucydides' Peloponnesian War to the library--the people he encounters gradually divulge the old man's deviant proclivities, such as his penchant for young girls. The evidence grows but points different ways, as Rayfiel, a screenwriter, entangles his characters with zagging, arresting dialogues. The ultimate surprise is the identity of the string puller in the enterprise to frame Allen; Rayfiel so skillfully teases this out that mystery buffs will close the cover satisfied and in one sitting. An attractive, kinetic mixture of intrigue, dialogue, and contemporary suburban atmosphere. ~--Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

Depicting suburbia as a split-level hell, first-novelist Rayfiel offers narrative sound bites that mix crime, coyness and sociological criticism. At about age 30, Allen Stanley returns to the childhood home from which his older sister vanished nearly 20 years before, where his grief-stricken mother died in an accident a few years later and where his father has just been found dead in the bathtub, his wrists slashed. The story is advanced by schizophrenic conversations, often sexually driven, that Allen carries on with the boy who cuts his father's lawn, with the promiscuous, hard-drinking woman across the street and with the teenage girl he meets in the library. When not waxing existential, Allen fitfully pursues rumors afloat in the unnamed community that link his father to the disappearance of his sister and of young girls seen in dimly lit bedrooms of the house. Allen's tentative investigation occurs in brutally truncated scenes and with dialogue that turns gothically arch between breaths. Rayfiel picks up convention towards the end and delivers a watertight solution that ties up his thematic and dramatic threads. But it's a classic instance of too little too late. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Who killed David Stanley? A retired professor and widower, father of a daughter who disappeared at age 15 and a son who left for college and never came back, Stanley was found in the bathtub of his split-level suburban home with his wrists cut. But there are suspicious bruises on his wrists, initials written in blood on the bathroom ceiling, no razor blade to be found, and those old rumors about Stanley's sexual proclivities. When Allen Stanley returns to bury his father, he becomes the target of circumstantial evidence and the instrument for revealing long-buried secrets. Screenwriter Rayfiel's first novel will appeal especially to Twin Peaks fans and film buffs for its quirky contemporary surrealism and cinematic style; it's a deft handling of the dark side of human nature, without a stock character in sight. Recommended.-- Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L. , Va. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.