NIGHT TRAIN by Martin Amis

NIGHT TRAIN

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Amis, who seems to be turning himself into a British Thomas Berger, continues his twisty tour of formulaic genres (The Information, 1995, etc.) with his most deadpan pastiche yet: the police investigation of an impossible suicide. Mike Hoolihan, a beefy female detective in an unnamed ``second-echelon American city,'' is called back from Asset Forfeiture to Homicide to break the news of his daughter's death to Colonel Tom Rockwell, the grand old man of the police department. Jennifer Rockwell was an astrophysicist who had everything to live for--brains, looks, the world's best lover, and unlimited career horizons--but who put a gun in her mouth anyway. Colonel Tom, of course, can't believe it's suicide, and asks Mike (so completely Jennifer's opposite that she's constantly mistaken for a man on the phone) to follow the case. She doesn't have to follow any further than the postmortem to see that Jennifer evidently shot herself three times--laying the case as wide open as her corpse. If Jennifer didn't kill herself, who murdered her? Her gentle live-in, philosophy-of-science prof Trader Faulkner? Bax Denziger, her bemused boss in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Institute of Physical Problems? Arn Debs, the jovial, roundheeled traveling salesman she'd hooked up with? And if Jennifer did manage to kill herself, why did she do it--who was the person inside who made her pull the trigger? Mike follows up a glittering trail of modish cultural rubble- -Jennifer's surprising use of lithium, her maliciously erratic recent work at Terrestrial Magnetism, her careful annotations in her copy of Making Sense of Suicide--to produce the latest in a stream of anti-detective stories that goes back all the way to Billy Budd. Amis's hypnotic way with a phrase produces a collage asparkle with bits of broken glass--and perhaps the most jaundiced, knowing book ever written about ignorance. Quite an accomplishment. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1998
ISBN: 0-609-60128-8
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Harmony
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1997




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