Raymond Sole is the ""survivor"" of the title, son of the heroine of Gee's last novel, Meg; and now, an established New Zealand political journalist at 50, Raymond is looking back at his disorderly family. Closest to him: his post-hippie daughter Sharon; his Jesus-freak son Greg; a grandchild; and the memory--very affecting--of his wife Glenda, who committed suicide. Viewed somewhat more remotely are Raymond's aging parents, his various black-sheep uncles and aunts--an eccentric yet decent crew. And then there's cousin Duggie Plumb, a rising politician who'll do anything to advance, even to the point of passive complicity in the death of a rival in a parliamentary race. (""'Ray, I'm having Epsom. O.K.? It's mine.' He laid the words down like coins on a counter. I saw he had nothing left but belief in himself. He had lost belief in the orderly sequence of events. That was the night on which his life in politics really started. Chance became his principle of action."") Raymond's monitoring of the fascinating Duggie is distributed loosely through the book, which somewhat diminishes the strength of its tang. Yet once again, as in Meg, Gee comes across as a gently unsentimental, especially economical observer of lives--with a clear-headed realism about human motive that's steadily appealing and frequently even moving.