Mary, Mary

Julie Parsons, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (288p) ISBN 978-0-684-85324-6
Narrated with stunning confidence and sophistication, Irish TV talk-show producer Parsons's first novel depicts the complex relationship between a mother and her daughter, who is murdered. Dr. Margaret Mitchell, a Dubliner who emigrates to New Zealand in 1975 shortly after the birth of her daughter, is now a well-known psychiatrist who has made her mark in women's mental health. When she returns to Dublin to care for her dying mother, Maggie is accompanied by her daughter, Mary, a vital young woman of 20. It is Mary's disappearance and the discovery of her viciously mutilated body that sets the story in motion. While some of the conventions of the crime novel seem inescapable (the attraction of Detective Inspector Michael McLoughlin to Maggie, the court scenes, the encounters between Maggie and the murder suspect), Parsons uses these events in unpredictable ways. Related alternately from the point of views of Maggie, the inspector and the murderer (whose identity we know, but whose motivation we learn gradually), each scene is beautifully paced and plotted, and even minor characters are deftly drawn and psychologically believable. Appearing in her mother's memory in a kind of instant flashback, Mary is vividly conjured, and Maggie's devotion to her poignantly portrayed. Parsons writes short, quickly paced scenes that raise the suspense level in taut increments, and her story is full of genuine surprises and fresh plot twists. While shocking, the novel's conclusion is powerful and convincing, totally in keeping with the characters Parson has drawn and with the complex psychological relationships she depicts. Already published in the U.K. and Ireland, the novel has also been sold in Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Japan, the Netherlands and France. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 376 pages - 978-1-86059-080-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 288 pages - 978-0-06-103049-9
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