I first discovered John Fowles via his marvelous and twisted novel of obsession and sexual gamesmanship The Magus. It scrambled my brain. Freaked me out. Turned me on. It’s a wild ride. But as good as The Magus is, Fowles’s first novel, The Collector, might be even better. I read it recently and had one of those out of body reading experiences, the kind where you look up and hours have passed, the thicker part of the book is now in your left hand, and you have a fantastic cramp from holding the book so long. It’s a dark and immersive experience. Imagine Silence of the Lambs without any uncomfortable chortles, only the uncomfortableness. It’s Lolita without a trace of irony or romanticism. It’s creepy as hell and rather brilliant. One of those books you almost don’t want to admit you liked so much because you’re afraid people will think you’re weird. I’m here to comfort you. You’re not weird.