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Whittaker's Wife is a kind of mystery story in which none of the clues are given until the end and what interest the book has then comes too late. Most of the story (set in South Africa) is concerned with a struggle between Lavinia Whittaker, beautiful widow of a financier and Joe Latham, her husband's former employee, over the control of a Rhodesian ranch. The story is told from the point of view of Joe's 19 year old son, Gene, who for no discernible reason, becomes privy to all the legal and emotional involvements. The climax occurs during a farcical hunt in which Lavinia is accidentally killed. Several people had motives for getting rid of her but the shot happened to be fired by the Whittaker and Latham lawyer. With Lavinia dead the underlying story is revealed and exposes the fact that Latham was an embezzler and that he and Whittaker's wife were once lovers. Latham's exile to Rhodesia and the growing enmity between him and Lavinia was his punishment. Unable to face the now-public truth Latham shoots himself. Most of this is told in such an awkward manner (with the exception of the hunt scene) that it's difficult for the reader to muster up much feeling, one way or the other.

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 1962
Publisher: Simon & Schuster