A DISTURBING INFLUENCE by Patricia Miles

A DISTURBING INFLUENCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Miles begins with abrupt, disjointed summaries (they could be jottings for a novel)--on the personalities of 16-year-old Andrew's friends (never called upon later), on neighborhood sites, and on the situations of seemingly peripheral characters who will fit in later. The novel's structure is jerky too. Switching from Andrew's ambivalent feelings toward his math talent and academic future. . . to strangers' cryptic but clearly illegal midnight conversations. . . to children's rumors of a haunted house. . . to a poor family with a runaway daughter, another daughter who appeals to Andrew, a no-good son just bared as a rock drummer, and an alcoholic grandmother seen spending counterfeit ten's, Miles drops clues right and left without having bothered to insinuate any question which might motivate readers to fit them together. Then finally the pieces are brought together too neatly--with the runaway girl revealed as the overheard conspirator, the counterfeiters' foil, and the haunted house's ""ghost,"" with her brother's real job revealed as the rock band's fence for the tenners, and with even Andrew's doubts about college resolved as a result of their example. Miles brings separate small scenes to life and makes a presence of her semi-rural British locale, but her serious, almost introspective tone doesn't jibe with the silly mystery plot that takes over.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1979
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard