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THE BIG PICTURE by Douglas Kennedy

THE BIG PICTURE

By Douglas Kennedy

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-7868-6298-X
Publisher: Hyperion

 Kennedy's well-hyped debut showcases a Connecticut lawyer who loses his designer life to a moment of murderous rage--and then squirms frantically to avoid retribution. Ben Bradford has it all, even though he doesn't want it. Years ago he surrendered his desire to be a photographer to his father's demand that he go to law school; now he's immured in a junior partnership in his New York firm's cozy Trusts & Estates division; in family responsibilities--a second child who's keeping him up nights, a wife who's stopped loving him; in the upscale consumables that holler success; and in the excess acid that pays for it. Shattered by the news that his wife Beth prefers the embraces of Gary Summers, a neighbor who's never given up his technical status as a professional photographer, Ben sees his life held hostage to this layabout. But he's the one who gives it the final calamitous push when he punctuates an ugly scene with Gary by killing him. Desperate for confession and absolution, Ben steels himself instead to hide every trace of the murder--and since he's a lawyer with money and unexpected leisure (Beth has bolted with his sons) as well as extended access to Gary's place, it's a world-class effort that involves faking an accident that will apparently kill Ben but will leave Gary dead in his place. Ben's taut narrative, which deftly mingles yuppie angst with obsessive plotting, almost makes you overlook how ancient this gambit is, and how cheesy its pulp antecedents. The accident staged, Ben flees the scene, lights out for the territories, scans the Times daily for his obituary, settles into a new life backed by Gary's ID and trust fund--and waits for the postman to ring twice, as he does in a satisfyingly ironic way. A startlingly unoriginal story whipped up by Kennedy's overdrive pacing and mastery of detail. (First printing of 400,000; Literary Guild selection; $750,000 ad/promo)