LINDBERGH'S SON by John Vernon

LINDBERGH'S SON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From the author of the historical novel La Salle (1986) comes this search-for-identity suspense narrative touched by the psychological occult: a man discovers that he may be Lindbergh's kidnapped son--though he may also be only the victim of an elaborate scheme to strip him of his inheritance and possessions. At 55, Charles Cooper has a successful water engineering firm in upstate NY, a handsome but oddly distant wife--and a case of incipiently paranoid hypochondria. Still, life is manageable, until one day Cooper is approached by two women from his distant past: one is (he comes to think) his mother, whom he'd thought dead; the other is Bernice, a ""cousin"" from his childhood who has also been his first lover in a steamy interlude (resulting in pregnancy) when both were 15. Set in motion by the women's appearance are forces that will change (and finally end) Cooper's life--not least being the force of Bernice herself, who moves into Cooper's vacation house in the country (where much of his boyhood was spent), claiming she has as much right to it as he does. Why? Well, it turns out that she's his sister, and that the strange (kind, large-headed, and somewhat hulking) 40-year-old man who appears one day on the doorstep is nothing less (Charles Lyndhurst by name) than their own incestuous offspring. Cooper embarks on a truth-seeking search into the past that destabilizes his mental health and leads him into a labyrinth of detective work and memory: Who was his mother? Where did his $800 a month secret legacy (which he later defeatedly signs over to Bernice) come from? Was the ""uncle Chuck"" he remembers from childhood really Charles Lindbergh, and really his father? Plot meshes with plot as Cooper falls deeper into what may be the truth, or the trap set for him, or his delusion-paranoic breakdown. At end, having lost wife, home, firm, and mysterious legacy, he is (by chance?) hit by a car, and his brain (which--yes--narrates this story) is kept alive in a jar, its nutrients supplied by a ""perfusion pump"" designed in 1935 by Lindbergh himself--until a last-page appearance by Bernice changes things one last time. Skilled and complexly woven entertainment, though rather top heavy.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Viking