CRIMINALS by Margot Livesey
Kirkus Star


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The discovery of a baby left in the men's room of a bus station exposes all kinds of human foibles--including, rather uncomfortably, our own--in this trenchant, tragicomic second novel from Livesey (Homework, 1990). Ewan Munro, a young, proper businessman finds the baby as he's en route from London to Scotland to visit his sister, Mollie. In a panic, not knowing what else to do, he carries the infant onto the departing bus and presents her to Mollie at the end of his journey. For Mollie, alone and depressed after a breakup with a longtime lover, the beautiful dark-eyed baby is a kind of wish come true. Immediately she makes plans to keep her, and Ewan, preoccupied with his own troubles at work, unwittingly plays along. But while Mollie is giving in happily to the routine of nappies, bottles, and lullabies, a young Indian woman named Joan is grieving about her missing baby, Grace. Kenneth, Grace's natural father, won't tell Joan the truth: that he put the child in the bus Station and waited to see what would happen next. When the baby was picked up by well-dressed Ewan, Kenneth trailed him, sensing there might be money to be made somehow in all of this. He manages to keep Joan from going to the authorities about her lost baby by threatening to expose her beloved brother as an illegal alien. This chain of events would never link up without just the right character flaws among all these people, and Livesey depicts them brilliantly. In one stunning, shattering scene, everyone is forced to deal with his or her own guilt next to baby Grace's almost terrifying innocence. Livesey raises great questions here about what makes a criminal, but the answers she offers in the end may leave the reader slightly disheartened. A wonderful labyrinth of good and evil, funny and sad, but be prepared: There's really no way out.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1996
ISBN: 0312424698
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Knopf