The narrator, Syd Redding, is a smart kid from a poor family who is finding his way through the local public university and has begun to imagine himself in medical school. He works the night shift at a local clinic, where Ted Kessler, one of the doctor-owners, takes a patronizing interest in him. So does Ted's wife. Before long the young man is pulled into a maelstrom of voyeurism and obsession where his emotions and desires seem to have become nothing but amusements for his rich patrons. He begins to plot revenge, and in the working out of that revenge Holden exercises his wonderful sense of the permutations of plot. Even in retribution, young Syd is out of his league. Things happen, terrible things, that he doesn't understand for a couple of decades. The fact that Syd doesn't quite know how to react to events that baffle even the reader's conventional understanding of justice and morality creates the gray space that makes this novel so difficult to categorize.
Holden does a lovely job making the landscape of The Narcissist's Daughter reflect the emotional condition of the characters. Here he describes a place where much of the action finds its resolution: