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A literary thriller about an infamous desert art installation, the cult it inspired, and the search for a missing young woman that is "cinematic . . . readers will be compelled to start again at page one to discover how O’Connor pieces together his suspenseful, incredibly well-written narrative" (Library Journal, starred review).
Los Angeles, the late 1970s: Jess Shepard is an installation artist who creates environments that focus on light and space, often leading to intense sensory experiences for visitors to her work. A run of critically lauded projects peaks with Zero Zone, an installation at the once upon a time site of nuclear bomb testing in the New Mexico desert. But when a small group of travelers experience what they perceive as a religious awakening inside Zero Zone, they barricade themselves in the installation until authorities are forced to intervene. That violent showdown becomes a media sensation, and its aftermath follows Jess wherever she goes.
Devastated by the attack and the distortion of her art, Jess retreats from the world. Unable to work, Jess unravels mentally and emotionally, plagued by a nagging uncertainty as to her culpability for what happened.
Three years later, a survivor from Zero Zone comes looking for Jess, who must move past her self imposed isolation to face down her fears and recover her art and possibly her life from a violent cult intent of making it their own.
"A harrowing, dexterous thriller. . . . With a noir tone and a rich assortment of characters whose lives unfold in chapters pared down to their essentials, the novel transforms a would-be abstract meditation on the influence of art into a vital, deeply engaging work. Writing with verve and precision, O’Connor serves up a thoughtful, original thriller."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Scott O’Connor’s new novel is a tour de force, an elegy to a lost time and forgotten city—the Los Angeles of the 1970s—which burns with artistic longing and cultural politics that are just as relevant and necessary today. With an innovative structure and a cast of dynamic characters, Zero Zone takes you on a journey that makes the world disappear while opening a new space, a possibility beyond what I thought of. O'Connor will make you feel like a time traveler: you won’t want to go back home; you won’t want this wonderful book to end." —Rachel M. Harper, author of Brass Ankle Blues and This Side of Providence
"After finishing this cinematic novel, readers will be compelled to start again at page one to discover how O’Connor pieces together his suspenseful, incredibly well-written narrative." —Library Journal (starred review)
"A mesmerizing, prismatic, noir-inflected thriller about the intersection between trauma and art. O’Connor is a clear-eyed, compassionate writer, and this is a dazzlingly human haunted house of a book.” —Ben Loory, author of Tales of Falling and Flying
“Zero Zone held me from the first page with its precise prose and willingness to interrogate deeply what art can and cannot do for us—and to us. Scott O'Connor has written a profound novel about the human search for transcendence and meaning in our often alienated and confusing lives—and it's full of suspense and mystery, with a gaze that's wonderfully cinematic. I can't stop thinking about it!” —Edan Lepucki, author of California
"Part Don DeLillo, part Little Big Lies, under O’Connor’s careful direction, Zero Zone pulls the reader through a fascinating explication of guilt, influence, art, family, history, and meaning, all encased in a slowly unraveling mystery. A masterful novel." —Christian Kiefer, author of Phantoms