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As soon as Ed gets the first card in the mail, he wonders who sent it to him. He rules out his friends, then his mom, and even his brother Tommy, but the question remains: Who would go to all this trouble to arrange missions for Ed all over town?
The truth is, Ed isn't sure. Even in the end, when the mystery man comes to Ed's house with a folder containing everything Ed wants to know, he's not sure. This secret agent isn't anyone Ed's ever met before… but he's met Ed. Huh?
When he finally meets Ed, he confesses:
"I killed your father, Ed. I organized the bungled bank robbery for a time when you were there. I instructed that man to brutalize his wife. I made Daryl and Keith do all those things to you, and your mate who took you to the stones…" He looks down, then up. "I did it all to you. I made you a less-than-competent taxi driver and got you to do all those things you thought you couldn't." (5.the folder.11)
Though we know at this point that this whole card-based extravaganza has brought a whole lot of good to other people's lives, we can't help but pause and wonder whether the same can be said about Ed's life. After all, it sounds the like mystery man has made a real point of making Ed suffer.
So is this guy a murderer? Not exactly. Or, we don't think so anyway—but feel free to disagree. We think the mystery man is supposed to be like a god figure, someone who knows everything(and we do mean everything) about Ed and his life. How else could he have a folder with scripts from Ed's conversations, thoughts, and actions? No amount of creeping around let's someone know your thoughts after all.
So we wonder whether the mystery man is God—he sure does seem omniscient—or perhaps a stand in for the author. The guy gets a bit meta in the final chapters, telling us about the story he wrote for Ed while Ed's in the story, but we think it could be the author standing before Ed and explaining the story (a.k.a. his life) to him. After all, the mystery man does talk about writing the pages for Ed, so it would make sense.
Whether God or the author (or whomever else you think this character might be) though, this international man of mystery wants to make sure Ed gets the message loud and clear: stop wasting your life and get out there and care about people. It's a powerful message, if you think about it, and one that many characters in the novel could hear… oh yeah, and us readers too.