There are some truly remarkable things about Richard Powers' The Echo Maker, a novel about a young Nebraska man named Mark Schluter who is in a horrible car crash and develops a rare psychological condition known as Capgras syndrome, which causes him to believe his sister has been replaced by a high-quality duplicate. Upon this background Powers has free license to wonder aloud about the nature of the self, its messiness, its unity, its mere existence. And his description of the Nebraska marsh even makes it seem mildly pleasant.
But there's a lot of flaws to The Echo Maker I simply couldn't get over: It's long, ponderous beginning, Mark's clumsy blue-collar gratingness, the completely unsatisfying solution to the big mysteries that surround Mark's accident. The Echo Maker seems much better in concept than solution, and while it has a heap of interesting things to say, Powers' attempts at spicing up the plot with intrigue fall surprisingly flat.