Books by Barry Cork

WINTER RULES by Barry Cork
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 2, 1993

The latest in the sprightly series (Laid Dead, 1991, etc.) about London's golfer-novelist-car-freak Inspector Angus Straun finds Angus being pressed into service by Special Branch. Augustus (``call me Gus'') Aligar, the golf-playing, American-educated new president of Chakra, in Africa, is informally visiting London and wants to play the course at the Rogues Club. Who better than Angus to be bodyguard-golf partner? He and literary-agent/girlfriend Laurie join Gus and his stunning mistress, Kiki Boucher, for a round that's cut short when someone takes a shot at them and it's discovered that Gus's hired Rolls is missing from the parking lot. With his own elegant Maserati recently stolen and crashed, Angus explores the netherworld of car theft and finds a tenuous connection to Chakra. Invited by Gus to visit that country and play the only—and still unfinished—course there, Angus becomes embroiled in much more serious mischief that involves Gus's survival and, peripherally, some shady doings very close to home. Angus's first-person narrative is chipper and entertaining, but too many threads makes knots in the flow of the plot and dissipate tension. Fun, but less than Cork's best. Read full book review >
LAID DEAD by Barry Cork
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 1, 1991

With a formidable body of work behind him, DeLillo has earned the reflexive musings of this heady portrait of an obsessed and reclusive writer — a novelist haunted by the corruptions of an image-dominated world, and hunted by those who would deny him the eloquence of silence. Two early books have brought Bill Gray both Salinger-like acclaim and enough royalties to live as obscurely as Pynchon, which he does in upstate New York, with a younger assistant named Scott, an alter-ego who attends to all his worldly needs, and maintains the massive Gray archive, including the much rewritten work-in- progress. Unsure whether to publish again, Gray decides to give the world an image instead and poses for a Swedish photographer named Brita, whom Scott escorts to Gray's hideaway with all the caution of visiting an elusive terrorist. And that's the point. Gray has retreated into silence as a way of creating ``force'' and ``myth,'' but only the terrorist has the real power these days, the ability to shape and influence events, ``to make raids on the human consciousness.'' When the news satisfies our need for narrative, the terrorist becomes the most important player, and the artist has one other choice besides retreat: He can, like Warhol, feed our addiction to imagery. Or so Gray contends. But events conspire to draw him into the real world of terror when a planned public reading in London — in support of a hostage in Lebanon — unravels into a murkier plot, propelled by Gray himself. With a deadly liver ailment, he sets off for Beirut, the ``millennial image mill.'' But instead of affecting history in some small way, he manages to disappear in an image of total anonymity. Back home, Scott maintains the status quo with the help of his spacey girlfriend Karen, a former Moonie who understands that messianism is the key to survival, that the crowd is the engendering trope of our time. DeLillo's edgy characters speak ``the uninventable poetry, inside the pain, of what people say''; his talking heads murmur the mysteries of our age. For all its ``cool gloom,'' his latest novel stands in denial of Gray's doom-drenched semiotics: it's a luminous book, full of anger deflected into irony, with moments of hard- earned transcendence. Read full book review >
DEAD BALL by Barry Cork
Released: April 4, 1989

An engaging first mystery whose setting is the tony Royal West Wessex Golf Club, which is soon to host the Tamworth Classic—internationally televised and hyped to a frenzy. When the ninth green is discovered torn to bits five days before the event, club secretary Alan Thurston and Chief Constable Linforth call on Inspector Angus Straun for help. He finds the culprit in short order—an elderly feminist named April Tonge—but vandalism is just the first of a series of disasters. There are minor ones like a strike by the TV cameramen; sacks containing defoliant instead of fertilizer; a maniacal motorcyclist on the course; a threatening note demanding money. Then comes the heavy stuff. Straun, divorced and living alone, now working on a second novel after his successful first under a different name, returns home one night to find his cat decapitated and a 13th-century crossbow missing from the wall. The following night, Keith Fletcher, the golf club's consultant agronomist, is found in a sand trap with a broken neck—an accident according to the coroner, but it's murder for sure when Tamworth Electronics P.R. woman Polly Appleby is shot dead with Straun's crossbow. There will be more killings before the purpose behind it all—rooted in Third World politics—is uncovered. There's also a restrained affair between Straun and his literary agent, Laurie, and a tense finale as the Tamworth Classic goes into its last round. Overelaborate plotting and some off putting iciness in Straun's personality are minor flaws in a very polished, thoroughly entertaining debut. Read full book review >