THE TAKING OF AGNES by Jennifer Potter


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This odd little novel--part political thriller, part gothic mystery, faintly oblique and literary throughout--is narrated by 50-ish Alicia Montfort, a widow living quite contentedly on her plantation in Martinique. But Alicia's brother in France, disturbed by rising revolutionary violence on the island, sends his lovely young daughter AgnÉs to persuade Aunt Allcia to leave her adopted land, to come home. And once AgnÉs arrives she forgets her mission, becoming enchanted with the island, with romantic family-history, with an English journalist-suitor. . .until she is kidnapped (twice), ultimately turning up dead. Who is responsible for AgnÉs' demise? Is it, as generally supposed, a band of revolutionary guerrillas, the bandits known as Santanistes? Or was that journalist (who has voiced pro-rebel opinions) somehow involved? And what about middle-aged, leftwing Chilean poet Claude Cerda, who has been courting Alicia? With help from a clumsy detective, and excerpts from dead AgnÉs' diary, Aunt Alicia pieces the tragedy together, Finding motives both political and psychological. . .and enough blame to go around. Quite thin, slightly pretentious--but modestly effective, finally, in its blend of island atmosphere, shadowy recollection (somewhat à la Rendell), and secret motives.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1987
Publisher: Mercury--dist. by Kampmann (9 East 40 St., New York, NY 10016)