Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell


5 Critic Reviews

A narrative that strikes the head more than it strikes the heart.


Say you're a time traveler and you've already toured the entirety of human history. After a while, the outside world might lose a little of its luster. That's why this time traveler celebrates his birthday partying with himself. Every year, he travels to an abandoned hotel in New York City in 2071, the hundredth anniversary of his birth, and drinks twelve-year-old Scotch (lots of it) with all the other versions of who he has been and who he will be. Sure, the party is the same year after year, but at least it's one party where he can really, well, be himself.

The year he turns 39, though, the party takes a stressful turn for the worse. Before he even makes it into the grand ballroom for a drink he encounters the body of his forty-year-old self, dead of a gunshot wound to the head. As the older versions of himself at the party point out, the onus is on him to figure out what went wrong--he has one year to stop himself from being murdered, or they're all goners. As he follows clues that he may or may not have willingly left for himself, he discovers rampant paranoia and suspicion among his younger selves, and a frightening conspiracy among the Elders. Most complicated of all is a haunting woman possibly named Lily who turns up at the party this year, the first person besides himself he's ever seen at the party. For the first time, he has something to lose. Here's hoping he can save some version of his own life


About Sean Ferrell

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Sean Ferrell's fiction has appeared in journals such as Electric Literature's "The Outlet" and The Adirondack Review. His short story "Building an Elephant" won The Fulton Prize. His debut novel, Numb, was described as "eye catching," "daring" and "offbeat." He lives and works, in no particular order, in New York City.
Published February 5, 2013 by Soho Press. 320 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Man in the Empty Suit
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1


on Dec 03 2012

A narrative that strikes the head more than it strikes the heart.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Dec 24 2012

the reader eventually tires of...a necessarily narcissistic protagonist, who, in the end, is less than the sum of his many selves.

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Star Tribune

Reviewed by Tobias Carroll on Feb 01 2013

Ultimately, Ferrell’s novel satisfies as both a tale of a four-dimensional conspiracy and as a stark meditation on solitude.

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Kevin McFarland on Mar 11 2013

...where Johnson’s film wants to make a statement about how individual actions can affect the world on a grand scale, Ferrell’s novel is much more self-reflexive.

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The Maine Edge

Reviewed by Allen Adams on Feb 06 2013

Ferrell has composed a brain-teasing labyrinth of a novel; he allows us to follow along as he deftly traces a path to the end. There’s humor and pathos and genuine feeling, causing us to invest in not only his concept, but his character(s) as well.

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Jessica Ammann Lynch Mackner 31 May 2014

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

Terri McGinty

Terri McGinty 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list