The Horned Man


The Horned Man opens with a man losing his place in a book, then deepens into a dark and terrifying tale of a man losing his place in the world. As Lawrence Miller―an English expatriate and professor of gender studies―tells the story of what appears to be an elaborate conspiracy to frame him for a series of brutal killings, we descend into a world of subtly deceptive appearances where persecutor and victim continually shift roles, where paranoia assumes an air of calm rationality, and where enlightenment itself casts a darkness in which the most nightmarish acts occur. As the novel races to its shocking conclusion, we follow Miller as he traverses the streets of Manhattan and the decaying suburbs beyond, in terrified pursuit of his pursuers. Written with sinuous grace and intellectual acuity, The Horned Man is an extraordinary, unforgettable first novel by an acclaimed writer and poet of unusual power. Reading group guide included.



“For 25 years I have deliberately resisted every impulse to use the adjective ‘unputdownable’. But records are meant to be broken, and James Lasdun’s dark psychological thriller, The Horned Man is…’unputdownable’… It is a masterpiece of chilling, mesmerizing control.”  — Michael Dirda, Washington Post

The Horned Man is not just a skillful thriller. Almost every sentence is a delight in its penetration, imagination, aptness, and freedom from cliche… This is a black novel but a beautiful one.”  — Gabriele Annan, New York Review of Books

The Horned Man is a beautiful and deeply disturbing book, one that defies simple explanation. A man’s life begins to unravel at the mercy of what appears to be a conspiracy, and in James Lasdun’s deft hands, this dissolution assumes the harrowing, irresistible power of a nightmare.”  — Jennifer Egan

“The book combines a narcotic literary ease with a knuckle-whitening tension – like a roller coaster ride taken on codeine.”  — Emily Nussbaum, New York Times

“The wit and live, tactile intelligence here is beautiful, thrilling. Does anyone remember Nabokov’s comment that real writing must be read with the spine? If you possess a spine, The Horned Man will set it aflame.”  — Mary Gaitskill

“A beautifully imagined story, singular in its observations of human life and the shifting realities of ourselves and all that is around us.”  — Paula Fox

“This enormously inventive, superbly written novel puts more seasoned authors in the shade.”  — The Sunday Times (London)

The Horned Man is the descendent of both Saint Augustine and Buster Keaton. It’s odd, unfathomably beautiful, very (very, very, very) funny, charismatic and a shade miraculous.”  — Rivka Galchen, Granta Books of the Year

The Horned Man is hands down one of the best novels of the past decade. Lasdun is a writer of consummate skill and control and this is a great story masterfully told.”  — M.J. Hyland

“There are hints of Nabokov and Chandler in this superb piece of invention and implosion. Lasdun’s wide-ranging imagination and wit is bounded only by a brevity compared to which Raymond Carver seems wordy.”  — Dale Peck

“A wonderful first novel from a writer with a poet’s gift for precision. The Horned Man is an elegantly troubling, and often very funny, fable of sexual obsession and urban unease which Lasdun brings to a genuinely startling culmination.”  — A.L. Kennedy