A classic “writer novelizing a dangerous true tale” story, “A Lonely Man” follows Robert, a young writer in Berlin. Gestating not too much in the way of words, while with a wonderful wife and two daughters, he stumbles onto Patrick, a driven, perhaps shifty ghost writer who fears Putin’s reach because of starting a book by one of those Russian oligarchs who could only have been born from as cataclysmic an event as the end of the Cold War. Is Patrick for real or just paranoid? Why does Robert latch onto Patrick’s images and scenes so frantically? It can’t turn out well. A Lonely Man begins as a cross between a modest expatriate tale and a thriller by Robert Harris (remember his The Ghost?) but darkens and deepens, the prose precise and immersive, into an existential drama that enthralls. Domesticity nestles with opulence, violence with tawdriness. Lit thriller par excellence.