ACTS OF REVISION by Martyn Bedford


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 From the Yorkshire-based Bedford, a suspenseful saga of a sociopath's return to his painful past, seeking vengeance for slights real and imagined from his former teachers. Bachelor Gregory Lynn, 35, has lived with his mother, in strangeness and seclusion, for most of his adult life. But her death, and his subsequent discovery of old school reports, releases disturbing memories, sending Gregory out on a systematic hunt for his ``oppressors''--the details of which are given here in retrospect as Gregory is interviewed by a legal team preparing to defend him against a number of charges, including murder. After subjecting an ex-history teacher to an anonymous blitz of hate- mail, Gregory visits Wales and his former geography instructor, a provocative dresser who once caught him masturbating in class. He stalks her for days, assaults her, but then lets her go without raping her. A series of letters between Gregory and his sympathetic English teacher follows--an exchange that starts well but ends with Gregory threatening her, too. Contact with his math instructor is thwarted when he discovers that the man is dead, but a visit with his bullying gym teacher proves more satisfying: Gregory finds him at home in Oxford and tortures him before being forced to flee. Now hunted himself, Gregory takes refuge with his freethinking art instructor but leaves when his uncontrollable appetite for revenge sours the understanding they once had. Gregory's final act of vengeance, though, is reserved for the hated Mr. Boyle, still teaching science at the school where an assault on him 20-odd years before led to Gregory's expulsion. Taking Boyle hostage in his classroom, Gregory extracts a night of torment from his victim before bringing matters to a violent, unpredictable end. Thoroughly unsettling, this tale forcefully presents the workings of a deranged mind in all its complexity while retaining the page-turning pleasures of a genuine thriller. A riveting debut. (Book-of-the-Month Club selection; author tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 1996
ISBN: 0-385-48273-6
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1996