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Set in the tumultuous summer of 1974, in the shadowy rooms of a rundown mansion in Rhode Island, Smithy follows a group of seven collegiate researchers attempting to shed light on the psychology of humanity’s fellow primates by teaching American Sign Language to a gifted chimpanzee. But as the summer deepens and the history of the mansion manifests, the messages signed by their research subject become increasing spectral.
Written in epistolary format, this novel powerfully evokes time and place, recalling not only the controversial psychology of the early ‘70s, carried out in projects like the CIA’s MKUltra and the Stanford Prison Experiment, but also the budding of the horror genre itself. Steeped in a decade that gave us Amityville and The Exorcist, Smithy blends the mundane and the supernatural to earn its place beside such classics.