The Four Last Things

Andrew Taylor, Author
Andrew Taylor, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-16845-2
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-312-28731-3
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While shifting points of view initially create a surface tension and the illusion of speed, Taylor's latest, the first installment of a trilogy, ultimately commands only slack attention. A child's kidnapping is at the heart of the story. From the beginning, it is clear that four-year-old Lucy Appleyard is going to be snatched. Shifting viewpoints introduce her parents--Sally Appleyard , a young deacon at St. George's in Kensal Vale, and her husband, Michael, a policeman. The Appleyards' marriage, already stressed, is subjected to pressures that will change it forever. The kidnappers are an odd pair: Eddie Grace is an introverted, passive, marginally functional pedophile; Angel Wharton is a manipulative, shrewd, violent schemer. Each shift ratchets the tension another notch as macabre clues in the form of body parts are found in various church settings and the police are unable to make any headway. Sally's faith, which led her to seek ordination in the Church of England, begins to desert her. The church, and the role of women in it, forms an integral part of the story. Taylor (An Air That Kills, 1995, etc.) touches on child sacrifice and the difference between insane religious fanaticism and genuine faith. But the plot is lurid, related in flat prose that just amplifies the schematic nature of this mediocre effort. (Dec.)
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