The mildly engaging mid-life crisis of London's Anthony Craddock--50, discreetly homosexual, somewhat alcoholic, moderately successful as a journalist-turned-TV-playwright. . . and a lifelong, off-and-on chum of politician Royston Llewellyn, a powerful man in the Home Office. So, when Craddock is approached for an interview by young, underground-ish journalist Peter Franklin, it doesn't take him long to realize that Peter isn't really interested in Craddock's ideas on TV: he wants inside dope on Llewellyn, who's been accused of some corrupt government/business dealings. And Craddock, sexually attracted to pale, undernourished, fainting-prone Peter, finds himself cooperating with the investigative reporting. . . while remembering his Llewellyncentered past: their 1949 army stint (Llewellyn leading the way to carousing and wenching); Lleweliyn's early, well-meaning, but scattershot political career; Llewellyn's marriages (wife #2 Mary became Craddock's soulmate); Craddoek's own role, over the years, in hushing up Llewellyn's adulterous shenanigans. Finally, then, Craddock must decide whether or not to help the authorities to destroy his old pal--though this dilemma is murkily dramatized here, with little conviction in the Craddock-Llewellyn love/hate relationship. And US readers will find some of the British by-election politics a muddle of unfamiliar references. Still, Hopcraft (who wrote the TV version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) writes fine, bitterly dry dialogue throughout this first novel, with downbeat glimpses of English journalists and bureaucrats; so readers who enjoy the work of dour, erudite Britishers like Frederic Raphael may find modest entertainment here, despite the foggy themes and much-ado-about-nothing plot.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1982
Page Count: -
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton--dist. by David & Charles