Part mystery, part romance, part adolescent fantasy, the latest from Tremain (Sacred Country, 1993, etc.) features a 13-year-old English boy who turns supersleuth when his first love, a much older best-selling writer, is kidnaped in Paris. Young Lewis Little's frostily beautiful mother Alice, a translator, has been summoned to Paris for the summer to live with popular romance writer Valentina Gavrilovich and work on her new book, so Lewis comes along to sharpen his French. It's not his language skills that grow, however, but his lust as he's captivated by the rounded form and exotic qualities of his Russian ÇmigrÇ hostess. While Alice begins an affair, leaving him to his own devices, Lewis focuses his overcharged imagination, like a heat-seeking missile, on Valentina. . . but then she disappears. Alice is content to report the matter to the police and resume her liaison, but Lewis sets out to save the woman he loves. Thinking at first that her Russian lover somehow dragged her back to Moscow, Lewis soon picks up another trail by piecing together clues from Valentina's housekeeper, her neighbor, and the files on her computer (which he reads before the police take them away). He gets close enough to her to receive a threat, and when that doesn't deter him, he's abducted himself. Held captive in the same rundown farmhouse as his love, Lewis makes the most of the chance to have her all to himself, talking nonstop with her through a hole in the wall between them while he plans their escape. Unfortunately, his fantasy-come-true in confinement fades in the harsh light of subsequent events. An adolescent world emerges here that is wonderfully complete, melding with adult preoccupations in ways both subtle and seductive. The result is riveting.
Read full book review >