book cover of Over the Shoulder

Over the Shoulder

(A book in the Allen Choice series)
A novel by

"That I am a nobody doesn't bother me as it might some people. I prefer anonymity, unobstructed movement through a crowd with neither a first nor a second glance in my direction." Anonymity is both existential goal and survival skill for Allen Choice, who may call himself a Korean-American but who isn't particularly comfortable with the label. A Silicon Valley security specialist (don't call him a bodyguard), Choice drifts through life the way he drifts through crowds: detached, isolated, neither particularly fulfilled nor particularly unhappy. He notes wryly, "I used to think I was in inertial rest, a body at rest remaining so. Once an outside force applied itself to me, I would be in motion. I liked this idea. It freed me, relieving me of the responsibility. I just had to wait for an outside force. But I soon realized this was an illusion... I decided to call it the inertial deception. I can't succumb to it."

But in Over the Shoulder, Leonard Chang's brooding neo-noir novel, circumstances conspire to administer an outside force of momentous proportions when Paul Baumgartner, Choice's partner, is killed in front of him. Paul's family, his employers, and the police all assume the hit was directed at the executive the pair were protecting. But Linda Maldonado, a reporter looking for a hot story to catapult her from the thigh cream comparisons and doggy-daycare features of the Lifestyles pages, hectors Choice into investigating Paul's death.

His investigation is quickly fractured by treachery and deception, as he uncovers strange links between Paul's death and that of his own father, an immigrant who died in a warehouse accident when Choice was 8. Elegantly captured in Chang's restrained prose, secrets and memories rise slowly to the surface, forcing Choice to confront both the long-hidden scars of familial bitterness and the poignancy of his father's quest to preserve his dreams of a medical career, even as he succumbed to the exhausting drudgery of physical labor.

Chang's first two novels, The Fruit 'N Food and Dispatches from the Cold, garnered praise for their starkly realistic portrayal of racial tension and quotidian ennui. Over the Shoulder, though leavened with a touch of dry humor, doesn't pull any punches either, as Chang lays bare his protagonist's frailties and fantasies. --Kelly Flynn

Genre: Mystery

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Used availability for Leonard Chang's Over the Shoulder

Hardback Editions

February 2001 : USA Hardback

Title: Over the Shoulder: A Novel of Intrigue
Author(s): Leonard Chang
ISBN: 0-06-019839-7 / 978-0-06-019839-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Ecco Pr
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Kindle Editions

February 2001 : USA, Australia, Canada, UK Kindle edition

Title: Over the Shoulder (The Allen Choice Trilogy Book 1)
Author(s): Leonard Chang
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU