PLAYING HAPPY FAMILIES by Julian Symons

PLAYING HAPPY FAMILIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The doyen of British mystery (Something Like a Love Affair, 1992, etc.) celebrates the 50th anniversary of his first novel by tracing the numberless effects of chipper Jenny Midway's sudden disappearance on her cozy little family. Mother Eleanor throws herself into a catering job that expands into a plan to carpet England with British-fare restaurants; once-strong father John collapses distractedly into the unremarkable arms of his secretary; brother David struggles without success to parlay his real-estate connections into a better home for his wife and the child she's expecting; half-brother Eversley Grayson schemes to bring together the shy seller of an undocumented Renoir with an equally secretive buyer; John's brother Giles, a High Court judge, fends off the blackmailers who know about his transvestite nights out. All the while, Supt. Hilary Catchpole is following slender leads to Jenny's sometime boyfriend, boxer Gabriel Lewis, and her missed appointment, Ettore Fraschini, who represents the Renoir seller, finding dirty work at every turn--even on the home front, as his raffish brother-in-law's latest get-rich-quick idea steals first Alice Catchpole's money and then her affection. All in all, the vigorous cross-plotting reveals a bleak enough world of shattered family ties. But this time, Symons, whose many chapters of suburban woe have often been marred by his scathing contempt for his characters, shows a welcome charity that makes this his strongest novel in years.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-89296-578-9
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1994




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