Introduction to Milk of Amnesia by Thomas Carney

Even though there’s a murder in the story and the presence of law enforcement personnel, this is not a mystery-genre novel. It’s more a character study of a 41-year-old man living well in the Carlyle Hotel in New York City on the ill-gotten gains of his father, a corrupt Los Angeles politician, now deceased. Unable to resolve his mixed feelings about this dirty money, the protagonist, Chris Bickerstaff, shies away from utilizing his law degree or engaging in a career appropriate to his upper middle class background, including getting married and starting a family. Instead, between his hobbies and various self-improvements, he undertakes what he considers to be “missions” on behalf of friends and acquaintances. This particular “mission,” and the first chapter, begins with a visit from the tough-as-nails sister of a bike messenger Chris plays basketball with, a guy he has just lent money to and who has disappeared.

An early Raymond Chandler short story, Guns at Cyranos, served as inspiration for the protagonist and his context.
Thomas Carney has written for Esquire, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, American Letters & Commentary, Tupelo Quarterly and Frontline (PBS), among other publications. He lives in New York City.