cover image Like Men Betrayed

Like Men Betrayed

John Clifford Mortimer. Viking Books, $16.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-670-81187-8

Available in the U.S. for the first time, Mortimer's powerful novel won raves when it was published 35 years ago in England. Different from the author's better known work ( Rumpole of the Bailey , etc.), this story dramatizes the generation gap, although it takes place before the phrase was coined. Middle-aged solicitor Christopher Kennet, jolted out of his quiet routine by rumors about his estranged son, Kit, tries to trace the youth through shadowy parts of London; his search fails, but it leads Christopher to an affair that acts as a catalyst to tragedy. Kit is in the country, inveigling one of his father's clientsbibulous old Hester Hume-Monumentinto signing papers giving him access to her money. As Christopher suspects, the ``borrowing'' funds an illegal deal with a murderer. The reader is in thrall to Mortimer's perfectly individualized characters in a big cast of pseudo-intellectuals, crooks and status-seekers. Only Christopher, despite his flaws, arouses empathy. (Feb.)