Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Dibdin's ( The Tryst ) fifth novel is a deliciously mean-spirited satirical tale of murder and betrayal. The unnamed narrator is a 40-year-old teacher of English as a second language, by his own description ``damaged goods . . . another over-educated, under-motivated loser.'' A sort of '60s throwback, he has reluctantly returned from stints abroad to a Thatcherized England, where chance throws him together with a well-to-do but hopelessly vulgar suburban couple. His affair with the wife proves his first step up the social ladder. As he climbs over the bodies around him, the book becomes a pointed, witty send-up of the new Tory brand of self-help, and the protagonist's clumsy ruthlessness a parody of free-market economics. On the final pages the whole thing comes together in a bleak, black joke on the era of neo-conservatism, in England and elsewhere. Dibdin's subtly inflected first-person narration is a marvel of controlled tone, with the narrator's snide, snobbish facade gradually dissolving into self-disgust until he marshals his emotional forces in the climax. A wickedly funny tour de force. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Dibdin's fifth novel (The Tryst, 1990, etc.) combines sex and violence in hilarious and appalling ways as narrator Tim--a poor but well-educated language-school instructor--jockeys for position among the academics and the ``right sort'' at Oxford. Tim's affair with Karen begins at a dinner party--in the kitchen, while her husband Denny is pontificating at the dining-room table. As their lusty bouts heat up, the notion of dispatching Denny pops up--and soon he's done away with on a drunken sail. In due course, Tim and Karen marry, and Tim settles in to enjoy Denny's house, wife, and wealth. Then, however, Karen accepts Clive (Tim's archenemy) as her new lover, leaving Tim to moon over near-perfect Oxford woman Alison and to arrange a mishap for Karen, with Clive as the scapegoat. Will Tim get away with it? Almost, but his misreading of Alison's devotion leads to a comeuppance--of sorts. A jaunty, cynical sendup of the British class system, ``perfect'' marriages, and expediency as a personal leitmotif. A comedy about immorality that'll make you cringe.
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