THE LAZARUS CHILD by Robert Mawson

THE LAZARUS CHILD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This second novel (but first US publication) by former London advertising/p.r. man Mawson combines an endangered-child melodrama with a quirky collective-unconscious tale. Even before the accident, the Heywoods were not a happy family. Jack, president of a failing air-charter business in Cambridge, was recently kicked out of the house for having slept with his secretary. He’s been sleeping on the couch at his office for a while now when an accident occurs that overshadows the puny irritations of marital strife: on her way to school, Jack and Alison’s seven-year-old daughter, Frankie, is hit by a truck and sent into a deep coma. Her 12-year-old brother, Ben, who witnessed the accident, is so traumatized that his hair turns white and he becomes nearly catatonic. The medical establishment offers the Heywoods no hope of a cure for Frankie—and little help for Ben, whose guilt prompts him to attempt suicide’so Alison turns in desperation to Dr. Elizabeth Chase, a genius neurologist who operates a highly experimental clinic for coma victims in Virginia. Chase, whose own brother died in a coma, is intrigued by Ben’s apparent knowledge of what Frankie is experiencing while she’s unconscious. His reports that she is fully active in a beautiful world we can’t see tally with Chase’s suspicions that her coma patients communicate with each other in some sort of “joint plane of awareness.” Welcoming the Heywoods to her clinic despite increasingly threatening attacks by fanatics, the Defense Department, and the local D.A., she urges Ben into her world of the collective unconscious to find and rescue his sister. In the end, Chase must join her young hero in this video-game—like universe where archetypal characters offer vital provisions and “magic” tokens to help seekers. The risk is that the participant will not return—in fact, only two of three wanderers manage to reach consciousness again. Mawson’s evocation of a shared “world beyond” is intriguing, but an ungainly structure and stock British characters may foil the publisher’s high hopes for this commercial novel.(Literary Guild Main Selection)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-553-10994-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1998