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One of the more forthrightly entertaining of Rubens' novels dealing with society's lonely ones, this time about an unstrung Londoner who plays detective through mists of rage and funk until he's catapulted ecstatically into a new life style and thrilling playtime fantasies. Luke Wakefield, 40, is a Failure of a high order: ""My parents had wished for a girl and from that day it was downhill all the way."" Education and career were zeros and his wife Connie left him--for a woman! There was of course that whopping legacy from his mother, who had the sense to marry a rich American, so Luke lives with Waterford crystal and in a penthouse garden off Regent's Park. But still, peak-of-the-week is standing in line at the post office where someone might talk to him. No one does on that fateful Tuesday, but he's fascinated by an exquisitely handsome man who, after stamping a letter, drops dead! Luke pockets the letter and reads that the sender, Sebastian Firbank, seems to have committed on wife Marion, the addressee (who lives at the same address), a ""monstrous act."" The dank psyche of Luke is propelled on a Great Crusade. Some frenzied dingtoed sleuthing convinces him that in the common ground at Wimbledon lies the body of Marion Firbank. Luke rockets on (a trip to a Welsh town to hunt for a dead artist; dogged treks to galleries to track down Sebastian's friend, the elusive Richard; a brothel encounter; funeral-crashing). But throughout, Luke is nagged by wife Connie-thoughts and a luxuriant paranoia. Then there's the birth of his son. Luke barely contains a bubbling rage, takes flight in mad disguises, and sojourns at a mental institution where he's greeted as an old customer. But good things are in the offering as Marion comes closer--and then, very close indeed. An amusing, pixilated mystery, and a shrewdly funny portrait of one of Rubens' luckier losers.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1985
Publisher: Delacorte