Jim Crace. Doubleday/Talese, $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-385-52077-5
In his previous 10 novels, the versatile Crace has been heralded for his firmly rooted, painstakingly detailed impressions of time and place, and his latest work is no exception. In fact, the setting—an isolated English farming village, in an unspecified past, with its “planched and thicketed” inhabitants—is so imaginatively described that it stands as the book’s richest character. Over the course of seven days following the harvest, the hamlet is alight with sudden change. A mysterious fire has set Master Kent’s manor stables and dovecote ablaze. Three newcomers—two men and an ominously alluring woman—who arrived that same night are hastily blamed for the fire. All three have their heads shaved as punishment, and the men are shackled for a week to a pillory. When one of them dies and the master’s favorite horse is later found bludgeoned to death, accusations of witchcraft erupt from within the townsfolk’s ranks and nothing, not even the secretive Master Kent’s halfhearted attempt at rooting out the truth and delivering justice, can quell the thirst for revenge that rattles the once principled town to its foundation. Walter Thirsk plays the perfect unreliable narrator; his deliberations about Master Kent’s true intentions, his neighbors’ guilt, and his own role in the events deepen an already resonant story. Crace’s signature measured delivery and deliberate focus create unforgettably poetic passages that quiver with beauty. An electrifying return to form after All That Follows. Agent: David Godwin, DGA, U.K. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/03/2012
Release date: 02/12/2013
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Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-0-330-44567-2
Hardcover - 7 pages - 978-1-4712-4783-5
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-0-14-318740-0
Paperback - 243 pages - 978-0-307-27897-5
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-4472-1194-5
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Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-1-4448-2017-1
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