Octopus Intelligence

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What's it about? Here's the

Charlie Weyl is a former intelligence operative with a mysterious ailment and an oblique message spelled out on his bedroom floor. Separated from his wife and living alone in his Manhattan townhouse, he struggles to remember what happened to a colleague named Donkor Hamza fifty years ago in Tehran: abducted by Weyl's superior, Hamza disappeared into anonymity and became Weyl's Flying Dutchman, a damaged refugee of the cold war wandering the undeveloped world without purpose or identity.

Dr. Tobias Cooper-Dunne is a self-medicating middle-aged paleontologist who's discovered a four hundred million year old fossil that may be a missing link between diverse lineages of cephalopod. Weary of an intransigent taxonomy and the rigors of public outreach, Toby jumps at the opportunity to turn the malacological community upside down, even as events conspire to keep him from the limelight: his unpublished book has stalled, his protégé enjoys the favor of the board of directors, his father-in-law has abandoned Toby's mother, and now Toby has begun to receive threatening calls from a man he's never met and who might or might not be a member of the Greater New York Teuthologists' Association.

Across town, Weyl seeks answers from an unlicensed homeopath and begins to suspect that he's been bitten by a poisonous animal in an assassination attempt engineered by his former employers in the intelligence community, the same men who now appear to be shadowing him across the city as he flees his townhouse for the relative safety of Central Park at night.

Secluded on Long Island, Toby makes a decision that will propel Weyl from retirement to the hinterlands of operational anonymity, and as both men dissemble over alternating chapters, a group of Buddhist gem smugglers camped out on the beach in Montauk will discover that the secret to individuality is in learning to deal with pain.

Octopus Intelligence is a novel about self versus collective, about the struggle of individuality and ego against the anonymity of the natural world. Most significantly, the novel is about modes of intelligence: where one man sees intelligence as a product of espionage, another sees it as the essential barometer between human and animal existence. At his nadir, Weyl loses the ability to recognize human intelligence, hearing only animal sounds, "a jabbering rainforest din"; for both men, the weight of the world ultimately looms above them with a "cumulative logic that [is] the face of nature, a blind indifference to the fragility of life."