cover image Inspector Imanishi Investigates

Inspector Imanishi Investigates

Paul Estaver, Seicho Matsumoto. Soho Press, $17.95 (313pp) ISBN 978-0-939149-25-4

Two families uneasily merged into one are the subject of this keenly observant, precise but unadorned novel, the first by 62-year-old poet Estaver ( Salis bury Beach ) to be published. At 50, Henry Calef is twice divorced, very reserved and hopelessly bewildered by his young adopted daughter Libby, whose feisty, defiant personality resists his every effort to tone her down. When he meets and marries Margo Bishop, a warm, emotional widow raising three older children in a chaotic environment, the newly created house hold comes with battle lines, both secret and open, that take 15 years to sort out. Margo's younger son despises Libby on sight, her older son has been turned into a wary, benumbed loner by his father's death and her daughter has entered permanent adolescent rebellion, a pattern Libby will follow. Al though Estaver covers a lot of ground--infidelity, heart disease, brushes with the law, sexual awakenings of all kinds and unbridgeable generational chasms--nothing about his prose seems rushed or gratuitous. Like Anne Tyler's work, this family portrait explores big issues through small moments, and paints effortlessly true characters with delicate brushstrokes of thought and feeling. (Apr.)