The protagonist of The Uninvited by Liz Jensen is Hesketh a man who lives with Aspergers and turns it to positive use as a consultant with an insurance company. It is his job to assess risk and find reasons for people’s behavior. Hesketh is sent to investigate a sabotage in Taiwan. The saboteur commits suicide, but the case is far from closed as other similar situations develop around the world. At the same time children start attacking their caregivers with lethal affect. Hesketh is challenged to his utmost to explain and deal with this phenomenon. It comes close to home when his beloved stepson Freddy starts exhibiting odd behavior.
The novel for me has two levels. The first is the thriller/horror story of a disintegrating world. In some ways it reminded me of John Wyndam’s novels in which the world ended in a variety of ways. It didn’t really matter what the characters did about their situation, the end was coming whether they liked it or not. The Uninvited presents the end of the world in the same chilling fashion. Nobody has any control or way of fighting back against the inevitable.
The second level of the book, and for me the more satisfying, is the portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome from inside. Hesketh is very believable as a person who just doesn’t quite understand the rest of the species. He is drawn with a deft hand. It is his personal struggle that is most gripping.
I was disappointed that the resolution of the novel fell flat. I wasn’t sure what I expected, but I didn’t put the book down with a sense of any completion. I think it was worth reading, especially for Hesketh’s character, but I wouldn’t re-read it.