The Broken Commandment

Vincent McDonnell, Author Viking Penguin $17.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-871061-07-9
Echoing Graham Greene in tone and theme, if not in insight or dash, this first novel features a lapsed Catholic who languishes in prison mulling over the sorry succession of events that led him there. Ferson was about to leave his possessive, hateful wife (not to mention his in-laws, the one humorless, the other ``a dead man already'') and go off with another woman (who doesn't even love him), when a near-fatal car accident forced him to make a terrible decision regarding his wife's future. As though one car crash weren't enough, there's a second one, fatal this time, involving another member of Ferson's family. If Ferson had really had the humanity ``threshed'' out of him by these events, as he claims, it's hard to see how he could have committed the act of mercy that puts him in jail; but it's as hard to believe he had much humanity in the first place. McDonnell writes with crisp but shallow assurance. Ferson, like the other characters, is essentially hollow, and if his story admits no chink of light it's because his creator seems to have a vested interest in dreariness. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Paperback - 254 pages - 978-0-14-013907-5
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