Bth-Lie of the Land

Haydn Middleton, Author Ballantine Books $16.95 (281p) ISBN 978-0-345-35864-6
Middleton is an English writer whose previous novel published here, The People in the Picture , was an intriguing and unsettling study of the impact of a strange man on the life of an unstable young woman. His new book offers another eccentric, David Nennius, to whom people are irresistibly drawn: the enigmatic, faithful Quinn, whom he apparently rescued from vagrancy, and Rachel, the beautiful Samaritan (a group of amateur social workers) who senses in him a man worth saving from what looks like imminent tragedy. Middleton skillfully works up an atmosphere of doom overlying the tiny details of domestic life; but when Quinn and Rachel discover a manuscript in which Nennius describes his life, involving much palaver about a mysterious, all-devouring woman with mythological overtones, the novel begins to fall apart. Lurid melodrama takes over and eventually Nennius, always more fascinating to the other characters than to the reader, becomes tiresome and absurd. Middleton is a gifted writer, fallen here into an unpromising rut. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-345-36766-2
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