THE MYSTERIOUS WORLD OF MARCUS LEADBEATER by Ivan Southall
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THE MYSTERIOUS WORLD OF MARCUS LEADBEATER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A finely tuned blend of: Marc's highly articulate observations and reflections on events both present and past (presented in Southall's trademark sentence-fragment style); a sequence introduced as ""possibly a happening,"" which proves to be a revelatory and prophetic dream; and more straightforward glimpses of Marc's grief, guilt, and deep confusion over his famous, beloved grandfather's death (Gramps drowned off Australia's coast, Marc failing either to save or die with him). Arriving by prearrangement with his grandmother (Gran) at the house he believes he has inherited, Marc finds a sign 'stating that it will be auctioned the next day--and then Gran inexplicably disappears. Distraught, Marc seeks Bea, an attractive woman he hardly knows, notorious as possibly having been Gramps' mistress. They share confidences (she describes herself as Gramps' devotee and protÉgÉe); Bea realizes that Gran is despondent and in danger, and so she and Marc set forth to save her. This bare outline emerges from a wealth of intertwined detail, the reader gradually privy to many levels of experience--such as those suggested by a succinct comment on Marc's ""remarkable failure to exploit his opportunities [with women], considering the nature of his fantasy life"" and the many aspects of Gramps as a public and private figure and in relation to his namesake and spiritual (as well as actual) heir. Neither language nor style here will be accessible to most teens; but this subtle, complex portrait of an anguished 16-year-old trapped by his history and his own intelligence rivals Garner's The Red Shift (1973); like that demanding tragedy, it, too, will appeal to rare, perceptive readers, including adults. Haunting jacket portrait by Brock Cole.

Pub Date: July 25th, 1990
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux