Saint X

Alexis Schaitkin

26 May 2022
352 pages


'I read Saint X in a night, captivated by its mystery but also by the smart, evocative way Schaitkin writes about race, loss and place.’ – Maggie Shipstead, The Guardian, ‘The 30 best holiday reads’

‘Hypnotic, delivering acute social commentary on everything from class and race to familial bonds and community . . . I devoured Saint X in a day.’ – Oyinkan Braithwaite (author of My Sister, the Serial Killer), New York Times

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister Alison vanishes from the luxury resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X on the last night of her family’s vacation. Several days later Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men, employees at the resort, are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. It’s national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved, but for Claire’s family, there is only the sad return home to broken lives.

Years later, riding in a New York City taxi, Claire recognizes the name on the cab driver’s licence: Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. The fateful encounter sets her on an obsessive pursuit of the truth as to not only what happened on the night of Alison’s death, but the no-less-elusive question of exactly who was this sister she was barely old enough to know: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation. As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will uncover the truth, an unlikely intimacy develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by a tragedy.

Alexis Schaitkin’s Saint X is a flawlessly drawn and deeply moving story that hurtles to a devastating end.

A remarkable debut . . . A richly polyphonic, prismatic novel . . . Issues are raised — tourism, racial bias, reality TV, sisterhood, excessive grief — but Schaitkin’s central preoccupation is with how we misperceive and misremember those around us.
Saint X is hypnotic . . . Schaitkin's characters . . . are so intelligent and distinctive it feels not just easy, but necessary, to follow them. I devoured Saint X in a day.
Saint X imagines a chorus of voices in the aftermath of the alleged rape/murder of a privileged American girl vacationing in an exotic Caribbean country . . . irresistibly suspenseful and canny.