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Mike Engleby, son of a paper mill worker in England’s Midlands, attends a hellish boarding school on scholarship, then one of the U.K.’s elite universities. He’s intelligent and often witty, particularly when puncturing academic pretension (”I don’t recall asking after the welfare of [Schrödinger’s] cat in the first place”). But there’s something more than a little off about him, starting with his lonerish behavior and fixation on a female classmate who ends up missing. It’s soon clear that Engleby is a most unreliable narrator, and Sebastian Faulks’ Engleby little more than a stuffy writing exercise whose supposedly big revelations drop with thudding inevitability. B-