ACT OF VIOLENCE by Margaret Yorke


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No one, it seems, can close out the killing of Daniel Stewart. Jamie Preston, the boy who begged him to break up the schoolboy melee that led to his death, is torn between guilt at rousing him and determination not to peach on the bullies who stabbed him to death. Jamie’s friends from Mickleburgh Comprehensive, just as scared and obdurate, are no more help to the investigating police. The vengeful vows of Daniel’s son Mark ring hollow; his harmless widow Midge can’t forgive herself for her failure to go out with him; and his well-cushioned friends Oliver and Sarah Foxton are sharply divided over how, and how much, they can help her. Into this mess of grief and guilt, limned with her customary surgical precision, Yorke drops a wild card: Wendy Tyler, a counselor lately arrived in Mickleburgh who has spent the past several years not in training but, rather, in serving out a long sentence for murdering her lover’s wife. Entranced with the control her adopted profession gives her over her clients, and bent on adding Midge to their number, Wendy, in a hideously effective series of parodies of therapeutic dialogue, succeeds in laying bare every well-meaning pretense of the cast, providing, in the end, closure of a most untherapeutic sort. Like the best of Yorke’s many quietly chilling novels (A Question of Belief, 1997, etc.), this one links events that in advance are seemingly unpredictable—and are utterly inevitable in retrospect.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-18522-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1998


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