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SUSPICION by Robert McCrum

SUSPICION

By Robert McCrum

Pub Date: March 10th, 1997
ISBN: 0-393-04046-1
Publisher: Norton

 Lust and murder lurk in the heart of a mild-mannered official living a quiet life in the south of England, in McCrum's (Jubilee, 1994, etc.) latest thriller, a work no more credible than its predecessors. Julian Whyte has led a flawlessly dignified existence. He is above reproach in his job as his district's coroner, a perpetually eligible bachelor, and a pillar of his community. Now, he welcomes news of his older brother Raymond's return with his family from former East Germany, where he had long taught at a university, upholding Marxist ideals. But Raymond arrives under a cloud: He is depressed, his beautiful German wife is unhappy, and rumors of his role as a Stasi informer grow more specific with the passing of the seasons. Meanwhile, Julian takes quite a shine to Raymond's wife Kristina. She begins to warm to him, too, and it isn't long before they're doing the nasty at every available opportunity, a situation that Raymond accepts in his typically depressed manner. He is bitter and vengeful enough, however, to tell Julian that Kristina doesn't really love either of them: She cares only for a young German poet she'd known in East Berlin. Raymond ended the affair by framing the poet, watching calmly as he was arrested and imprisoned. In time, Kristina's ardor toward Julian cools, as her husband had predicted. Then, suddenly, out of the new Germany comes the old lover, intent on taking her back to her homeland; Julian, desperate to make her stay even though he knows she wants to go, takes charge in a masterful--and largely implausible--fashion, manipulating both his poor, hapless brother and the cocksure lover into a fateful, fatal encounter. McCrum's own fatal flaw remains: The underpinnings of the plot are weakened by unanswered questions and dodges that, however artful, leave the reader increasingly unwilling to go along. (Author tour)