The Dismantling, the sophomore novel from Brian DeLeeuw is a devilishly clever, ultimately somber neo noir that is a significant improvement on his first novel. I read that novel, In This Way I Was Saved, a few years ago, and was utterly disappointed. It failed at its attempt at a suburban gothic tale in the vein of Shirley Jackson and was ultimately a low rent version of Thomas Tryon’s The Other. Here, in this grounded yet propulsive tale of regret and menace, DeLeeuw seems more at home and easily guide’s the reader through a dreary landscape filled with waning souls and seemingly little to live for. It gets a little bogged down with the specifics of the story, which I will get to, and a rather tepid flashback sequence, but this book never loosens its stranglehold on the reader. Simon Worth, a shiftless medical school drop out lazily finds his way into the underground black market of organ brokerage to pay of his student debt. He has a sad past, and his most current job, getting a liver transplant for a washed-up pro football player, isn’t helping much. He secures a donor, a woman around his age Maria who flies in from California with a need for cash and a ton of secrets. The surgery goes off as planned, but after something dreadful happens, Simon finds himself with only Maria to trust as both of their sad tales have led seemingly to a duel confrontation with their conflicted souls. I won’t reveal what is haunting either of them, although Maria’s backstory is easily the most grisly, but it informs what happens between them and Simon’s paranoid boss quite well, with a poignant ending that is hopeful rather than dreary the medical jargon was lost on me, and the incident from Simon’s past is kind of cliché, this is a wicked thriller full of intrigue and surprise.