In Tiburn, Iain Levison adeptly transforms a page-turning FBI crime-mystery into a resounding morality play about the risk of the return of the banality of evil in an overly consumerist society.
When Philip Dixon’s narrow escape from the police after a bank robbery lands him severely wounded and on the verge of collapse in the quaint college-town of Tiburn, New Hampshire, this hardened criminal thinks his one remaining dream of a better life has come to an end. After all, he doesn’t think he’s likely to find a place to hide out in this innocent suburban setting.
But peering into the window from the porch of the nearest house, he sees a glimmer of hope: a man in his mid-thirties, obviously a college professor, is rolling around on the living room floor with an attractive high-school student. The blackmail material couldn’t be better.
And so he enrolls Elias White, professor of history, a specialist on the rise of National Socialism, to help him recover from his wound and get ready for the last phase of his escape, a quarter of a million dollars in hand.
Things don’t work out quite the way Philip had planned: Elias turns out to be a much more willing collaborator than half the criminals Dixon has ever met, and his transition from an ambitious scholar to a remorseless killer is disturbingly seamless.