Playing Happy Families

Julian Symons, Author Mysterious Press $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-89296-578-6
A much-honored English author of nearly 30 crime novels, Symons (Sweet Adelaide) again dissects the English middle class in a plot with a twin-screwed narrative. But this time, Symons uncharacteristically delivers less than the book initially promises. The adult children of John and Eleanor Midway gather for their parents' 30th wedding anniversary. Champagne is poured; good food is served. But a crisis changes the lives of the Midways, or perhaps it renders visible aspects of their lives formerly hidden. Their firebrand daughter Jenny vanishes one afternoon; she is revealed as wild and promiscuous. In grief, John falls into the arms of his secretary, while Eleanor becomes an unlikely restaurant mogul. Eleanor's son Eversley, visiting from America, negotiates the sale of a priceless work of art with the gallery where Jenny worked. That odd coincidence sets Detective Superintendent Hilary Catchpole on a hunt for a killer. Symons struggles here on several fronts: his sexually liberated youngsters aren't convincing, and a subplot dealing with John's cross-dressing brother seems a pointless diversion. The impressive talent behind such works as Death's Darkest Face is conspicuously absent in this tale, which is neither taut nor especially knowing. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/1995
Release date: 01/01/1995
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 473 pages - 978-0-7862-0394-9
Hardcover - 473 pages - 978-0-7451-3042-2
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-446-40412-9
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7451-2747-7
Hardcover - 473 pages - 978-0-7451-3050-7
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