A GREEN FLASH by Winston Graham


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From the versatile Graham (The Miller's Dance, the Poldark series, etc.), a grabby psychological suspense novel set in the murky half-lit world of on-the-make London. Narrator David Abden has a keen nose, a shrewd business sense, and a ruthless been-down-too-long attitude. At 24, he's a promising prospect when he meets Mme. Shona, Russian refugee turned Cosmetics czarina, who hires him to jazz up the sales end of her old-world finn. But David craves his at-times dictatorial boss and, between marketing triumphs, relentlessly presses his case. And the inevitable love affair is, for years, a success: Shona's the boss in the office, but after hours they're verbal sparring partners and skilled and compatible lovers. Then the balance fails: David starts to think of Shona as old; his attraction is diluted. He inherits a drafty manor in Scotland and begins to feel twinges of paternal longing. So he marries Erica, a mutual friend who's obsessed with fencing, and, quickly detesting her, devotes his considerable energy to tracking down a band of fragrance counterfeiters. Another love affair, an accidental killing and much tromping around Scotland's harsh but healing outback follows as hard-edged David inches towards a brief dark glimmer of self-discovery. Graham is a master of characterization, and these vaguely unpleasant powerhouses of characters entertain and occasionally fascinate: in particular, David as narrator turns the mood nasty with his selfish, hypercritical observations. The suspense line suffers, though, at the expense of a lingering look at David's particular brand of moral and emotional development. So: despite fragmentary action, a compelling, ugly portrait.

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 1987
Publisher: Random House