"Hypnotic, delivering acute social commentary on everything from class and race to familial bonds and community . . . I devoured Saint X in a day." - New York Times, Oyinkan Braithwaite (author of My Sister, The Serial Killer)
Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister Alison vanishes from the luxury resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X on the last night of her family’s vacation. Several days later Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men, employees at the resort, are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. It’s national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved, but for Claire’s family there is only the sad return home to broken lives.
Years later, riding in a New York City taxicab, Claire recognizes the name on the cabbie’s licence, Clive Richardson – her driver is one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. The fateful encounter sets her on an obsessive pursuit of the truth, not only what happened on the night of Alison’s death, but the no less elusive question of exactly who was this sister she was barely old enough to know: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation. As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will uncover the truth, an unlikely intimacy develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by a tragedy.
Alexis Schaitkin's Saint X is a flawlessly drawn and deeply moving story that hurtles to a devastating end.
Saint X is hypnotic, delivering acute social commentary on everything from class and race to familial bonds and community, and yet its weblike nature never confuses, or fails to captivate. Schaitkin's characters have views you may not always agree with, but their voices are so intelligent and distinctive it feels not just easy, but necessary, to follow them. I devoured Saint X in a day.
Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of My Sister, The Serial Killer, New York Times
Richly atmospheric, by turns coolly satiric and warmly romantic, Alexis Schaitkin’s brilliant debut novel Saint X imagines a chorus of voices in the aftermath of the alleged rape/murder of a privileged American girl vacationing in an exotic Caribbean country. Part ’true-crime’ thriller and part coming-of-age novel narrated by the deceased girl’s younger sister, Saint X is irresistibly suspenseful and canny.
Joyce Carol Oates
Here is a marvel of a book, a kaleidoscopic examination of race and privilege, family and self, told with the propulsive, kinetic focus of a crime thriller. Brilliant and unflinching, Saint X marks the debut of a stunningly gifted writer. I simply couldn’t stop reading.