Presence of Evil

Ian Moffitt, Author Stein and Day $15.95 (245p) ISBN 978-0-8128-3039-2
Moffitt's second novel, after the highly praised The Retreat of Radiance, may be about ""an obscure grocer in a drear street in a decaying suburb on the edge of a continent far beyond the centers of power,'' but elegant prose, swift plotting and fascinating characters raise it far above its parochial setting. Nick Andrews, semi-retired foreign correspondent, moves to a small Australian seaside town where he hopes to find himself and save his new but already tottering marriage. Danby, a ``haven for rejects,'' is filled with people in varying stages of madness: homeless teenagers on the beach, street crazies, retired theatrical ladies in the next-door rest home and, not least, the ``obscure grocer,'' John Lynch, whose religious-cum-sexual fantasies could fill a casebook. Nick tries to discover the mild-mannered Lynch's disturbing secrets and finally, very late, realizes that his own step-daughter is Lynch's target. Among the best characters are the ruefully funny Nick, Lynch's schizophrenic sister Olive and old Mr. Whittecombe, WW I hero and ex-taxi dancer. Lynch himselffunny, sad and drivenis a gem. Foreign rights: Goodman Associates. November 19
Reviewed on: 01/01/1983
Release date: 01/01/1983
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