Skullduggery

Peter Marks, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $17.95 (284p) ISBN 978-0-88184-319-4
The title of this wonderfully wry and absorbing novel refers not only to an act of deception, but also to the literal digging up of skulls. The plot is based on a series of real-life events in English archeological history: the 1912 discovery of Piltdown Man, thought to be an extraordinary addition to evolutionary theory; and the revelation, 40 years later, that skull fragments and other remains from the Piltdown site were faked, the result of an ingenious forgery. Readers don't have to be archeologists, however, to have a stake in this mystery, where details of fluorine tests and ape condyles are combined with intriguing glimpses into the lives of real and fictional characters, whose plausible (if often perverse) motivations create a discreetly amusing entertainment. Although parts of his plot might seem outlandish (a scene between Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde takes place in a homosexual brothel), Marks (Collector's Choice gracefully achieves the reader's willing suspension of disbelief. 20,000 first printing; $20,000 ad/promo. (August 19)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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