As fans of the TV series Lost know, the producers of the show like to blur the edge between fantasy and reality. Not just within the show either. In an episode this season, Sawyer is seen reading a manuscript. Quick-witted viewers with TIVO ran it back and saw that it was for a novel, Bad Twin, by Gary Troup.
Gary Troup is of course fictitious, as the colophon of the new Hyperion edition of the book makes clear. Much was made of the fact that his name is an anagram for “purgatory,” though apparently that piece of evidence (at least) doesn’t seem to be relevant to the show (yet). It is, however, an ongoing point of discussion among characters in the book, which touches on matters of the afterlife. In this imaginary life, Troup was among the passengers on Oceanic 815, perhaps the guy who was sucked into the engine in the pilot episode, and his manuscript ended up on the island, in Sawyer’s hands.
Paul Artisan is a low-rent private detective, hired by a scion of an ancient and wealthy family to find his twin brother. This (possibly) “bad” twin has rejected the family fortune and way of life, and is living the life of a drifter; possibly in with shady company, possibly involved in illegal activities. But of course things aren’t what they seem. But I don’t want to get into the details of the plot, except to cover points where this fantasy bleeds into the fantasy of the show.
As viewers know, the magic number sequence 4-8-15-16-23-42 reappears in various permutations throughout. The book is no exception. The twins were born twenty minutes or so apart, spanning midnight of August 15. So their birthdays are 8-15 and 8-16. They are Widmores — as was the mystery woman who appeared at the end of the last episode of season two.
The Widmore financial empire is large, and serving on the board is none other than Arvo Hanso, he of the Hanso Foundation. Their offices are in the same building. One of their clients is Paik Heavy Industries — Sun’s father’s firm.
There are references to a novel, Trent’s Last Case, a 1912 English murder mystery about a freelance investigator lured out of retirement to investigate the murder of a wealthy English baron. The first half of the book leads up to the apparent resolution of the mystery. Readers wonder, “well what happens in the second half?” And the answer is — everything you thought was true was wrong. All of the same clues are rearranged, and a different — and correct — solution to the murder is arrived at.
Needless to say, Bad Twin follows the same scheme, and a little further. The first half has an apparent solution, which is wrong; three-quarters of the way there’s a second apparent solution, also wrong.
Rumor is that Stephen King is the ghostwriter. It may well be. King’s forensic detail to the gory details of life is apparent, and the structure is reminiscent of his better works. Take the graveyard scene towards the end, “Off in a corner, a new grave was ready …Â It was covered with a grass-green rug to spare the visitors the distressing sight of the dank and seeping earth with its beetles and its worms.” Or an earlier scene in a morgue, “where the bodies slated for autopsy were cut into and opened and probed, bits of their kidneys and livers buttered onto slides.”
Smells like King, doesn’t it?