A SHORT TIME TO LIVE by Mervyn Jones


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Michael Willet, a 40-ish British journalist, dies under mysterious circumstances on a little-known Pacific island-country named Tamatuvu. As the curtain rises, his friends are gathering at the funeral, old boys from the same school: a ruthless banker, a Labour M.P., an actor, a mystical hippie. And then the lives of all these men are slowly unscrolled--with special emphasis on banker Titus Hardcastle, who it turns out, made a secret investment in Tamatuvu chrome, holdings which he's been forced to protect at any cost (a remote-control invasion of a neighboring country; even, indirectly, the death of Willet, who had gotten wind of the dealings). But finally Titus himself falls sick, with cancer, and is dead before retribution can be meted out. Jones (Lord Richard's Passion, The Beautiful Words) knows his way around the very British old-chums-grown-up novel--and when it starts to stale on him, he switches over smartly to an improbable yet surprisingly convincing affair between the banker's wife, Emma, and the aging hippie black-sheep, Philip Zane. Adding texture, too, is an old Welsh schoolmaster who knew the men when they were boys and who provides a benign, long-perspective overview of all the temporary complications and busynesses. No great substance, then, but Jones' involving characterizations and proficient interweaving of story-lines make something solidly entertaining out of an old-fashioned British-fiction setup.

Pub Date: March 6th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's