OUR FATHERS' LIES by Andrew Taylor


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A tepid, disappointing suspense novel (the third in a series by the author of Caroline Miniscule, 1983, and Waiting for the End of the World, 1984) about an English civil servant who kills to hide the fact that his father had been executed during WW I. Richard Prentisse is a historian whose death by drowning in Suffolk is ruled a suicide, but his daughter Celia refuses to accept this and contacts her old friend, Major Ted Dougal, formerly of the British secret service, and his son William, a kind of amateur sleuth who has been featured in Taylor's previous two novels. Together they discover that Richard had been investigating the case of John Landis, who had poisoned his wealthy sister-in-law in 1931, and had been hanged for his trouble. But historian Richard's interest lay in the fact that Landis' brother-in-law, Alfred Comer, had been shot for desertion at the end of WW I. Trying to find out why someone would kill Richard because of this information, Celia and William and the Major decide to contact Beatrice, Alfred's sister-in-law, only to find that she has been murdered. When an investigative journalist who is helping on the case is himself killed, the trio realize that someone is trying to silence them. It can only be Harold Comer, Alfred's son, a prominent civil servant who doesn't want anyone to find out that his father had been shot, not so much because he was a deserter, but because he was a Socialist who had been sowing dissension amongst the troops. He attempts to kill William and Celia, but they're rescued by the Major, who forces horrible Harold to commit suicide, although not before he admits to having killed Richard and the others. There are some interesting scenes here, but the plot is obvious and flimsy and complicated all at the same time--too much of the action happens offstage, 50 years ago, for the reader to really care, and there's little in the way of suspense since it's quite apparent that Harold is the guilty one all along. A creaky jigsaw puzzle, with too many pieces missing, from a talented writer who can do a lot better.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Dodd, Mead