Thomas Kilbride is what you might call an “odd duck” but he’s a bit more than that – he’s schizophrenic, with an obsession and a talent for memorizing the details of maps. The maps he really loves these days are the Earth maps of Google – Whirl360 maps. So he stays in his room and memorizes the street names and places of all the cities on earth – in preparation for the day when all the cyber-maps on Earth are destroyed by a virus or terrorist action or a meteorite or something. He’d like, in that event, to be useful to the CIA and provide new and accurate maps.
Then one day, Thomas witnesses a murder – or he thinks it’s a murder – and it stirs memories and it stirs civic concerns. How did that situation come to be? The scene and characters change to a couple of roommates who lived in the room, Alison Fitch and Morris Sawchuck who is a politician, his wife – who is part lesbian, his top political aide who has connections to gangsters, and an Olympic gymnast turned hit-woman, Nicole. There are several more characters adding to the serious mess Thomas and Roy get into when Thomas finds evidence of a murder on Whirl360.
Thomas tells his brother, Roy who is staying in the house since their father died in a lawn-tractor accident. Roy is an unemployed graphic artist – very concerned for his brother and somewhat overwhelmed with his problems. But he meets a woman named Julie who provides some needed helpful relief.
Thomas tells his brother he works for the CIA. He talks to ex-President Clinton. He sends daily messages to the CIA, reporting on his progress. He visits his psychiatrist. Nobody believes him – of course. But … what about that prologue murder? What about his father’s death?
It’s been said that this is a rewrite of Alfred Hitchcock’s Back Seat but I’ve not seen the movie (or I don’t remember it at all). To me, for different reasons, it’s in the category of Jonathan Letham’s Motherless Brooklyn where the police officer-protagonist has Tourette’s Syndrome. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time with its young autistic detective also comes to mind – as well as The Kitchen Daughter.