Unknown Hand

Gillian Linscott, Author St. Martin's Press $0 (255p) ISBN 978-0-312-02996-8
Researching Anglican religious poetry in his scramble up the academic ladder, young Oxford scholar Colin Counsel accidentally comes across a sado-masochistic novel printed in Paris in the 1950s, The Martyrdom of Valentine . Strangely drawn to the woman depicted in the languid, decadent book--a woman who ultimately instigates a murder--Colin resolves to find the unknown author. His search leads him to Prudence Belsire, the dead publisher's secretary, and her disturbed daughter, Kay. But Prudence is murdered and Kay disappears, and Colin flees in the company of a homosexual artist who had been part of the Paris circle involved with the book. Other members of the group include a prominent and titled politician, a famous but fading actress and a poetess of some renown who is about to claim authorship of Valentine for publicity purposes. Colin continues to Paris, pursued by goons in league with Kay, who is the image of the woman in the book. Linscott ( A Whiff of Sulfur ) almost succeeds in creating a lively mystery, but the protagonists and their obsessions fail to keep the reader interested in their plight, despite some deft and lively characterization in subsidiary roles. ( June )
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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