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A Carnivore's Inquiry

When we meet Katherine, the winning—and rather disturbing—twenty-three-year-old narrator, she has just left Italy and arrived in New York City, but what has propelled her there is a mystery. She soon strikes up an affair with a middle-aged Russian émigré novelist she meets on the subway, and almost immediately moves into his apartment. Katherine’s occasional allusions to a frighteningly eccentric mother and tyrannical father suggest a somberness at the center of her otherwise flippant and sardonic demeanor. Soon restless, she begins journeying from literary New York to rural Maine and Mexico City, trailed, everywhere she goes, by a string of murders. As the ritualistic killings begin to pile up, Katherine takes to meditating on cannibalism in literature, art, and history, and examining subjects as diverse as the Donner Party, the fall of Dante’s Count Ugolino, and the true story behind Géricault’s “The Raft of the Medusa.” The story races toward a hair-raising conclusion, while Katherine and the reader close in on the reasons for both her and her mother’s fascination with aberrant, violent behavior.

This is a novel of ideas and a brilliantly subtle commentary on twenty-first-century consumerism and Western culture’s obsession with new frontiers. Told in highly intelligent prose “with echoes of both Poe and Patrick McGrath” (Book Forum), A Carnivore’s Inquiry is a sly, unsettling exploration of the questionable appetites that lurk beneath the veneer of North American civilization.

"A cracklingly original, brilliantly conceived modern Gothic...Builds like a tropical storm."—Elle

"Elegantly written...every sentence crackles, and the dialogue defines punchy. Murray is a big talent."—Entertainment Weekly

"Stylish, chilling, highly literate psychological thriller."—The Bookseller (UK)

"Mesmerizing...Murray paces her psychological thriller with consummate control, keeping the reader enthralled through subtle suggestion and a scattering of grisly details. But the author has a darker purpose. More than the story of one deranged woman's obsession, the novel and its brilliant subtext hint at the ways American society devours the weak, while building a case for a blood hunger in human nature...Readers will be hooked by Murray's classy treatment of her sexy-sinister subject matter."—Publishers Weekly

"Dark, clever and funny all at once. Brilliant stuff."—Helen Walsh, author of Brass

"Murray not only creates a magnetic, amoral and utterly memorable heroine, she invents a whole new genre: ironic Gothic."—The Washington Post

"Put on your literary seat belts and enjoy the ride."—Jonathan Ames

"Murray is a mesmerizing writer who uses succinct, evocative language with the precision of a pointilist."—Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald

"Though A CARNIVORE'S INQUIRY has any number of scary (not to mention stomach-churning) moments, the novel's real appeal lies in Katherine's erudite, mordant humor...Beneath both the humor and horror lies a scathing indictment of American values. Katherine, with her ceaseless hunger, serves as a gorgeous, freaky metaphor for that cliched American dream of having it all."—Joanna Smith Rakoff, Time Out New York

"Compelling, maddening, hilarious...remarkable."—Ron Bernas, Detroit Free Press

"Why is this book, full of murder, loneliness, and insanity, so darn funny? That's the genius of this oddly wonderful and engrossing second novel by Murray...The plot itself is tight and fast, quirky and dangerous."—Anne Rochelle Konigsmark, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution