by Peter Cameron ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 1, 1997
A precise, unsettling (if somewhat overlong) study of loss and duplicity. Cameron, the author of several well-received novels (The Weekend, 1994, etc.) and story collections (Far Flung, 1991, etc.), sets this terse work in the tiny country of Andorra, a mountainous, pocket-sized nation wedged between France and Spain. Alex Fox, his disaffected narrator, arrives there fleeing some at first unspecified horror, and finds the carefully ordered, slightly eccentric society of Andorra to be both enticing and soothing. He falls in with the Dents, a handsome, charming Australian couple who, separately, set out to seduce him. And he in turn begins to pursue the beautiful, hesitant Jean Quay, a young woman who seems to be locked in a constant struggle to suppress some disturbing incident in her past. Cameron deftly introduces a grim subtext to Alex's amours: The bodies of several men, strangled to death, wash up on a nearby beach. Ricky Dent disappears, and his frantic wife and a coolly charming policeman both wonder whether Alex has had something to do with it. Dent reappears but, convinced that he will be arrested for the murders, flees. Alex, who had come to Andorra looking for the solace of anonymity, allows himself to drift into an affair with the not-terribly-distraught Mrs. Dent and to entertain the idea of settling down with Jean. But things quickly go wrong. Alex, protesting his innocence, becomes the police's prime suspect in the murders. He isn't guilty, but an even more horrendous crime in his past spurs him to attempt to flee. That crime is revealed only at the last, and Cameron does a very deft job of gradually peeling away the seeming charm of the place and its inhabitants to uncover some nasty secrets underneath. While the pace occasionally lags toward the climax, Cameron's sly, complex characters, wonderfully intelligent dialogue, and masterful pacing combine to create a cumulatively powerful tale of the unforgiving workings of fate.
Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997
Page Count: 256
Publisher: "Farrar, Straus & Giroux"
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996
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