TEN YEARS ago this author gave us a brilliant first novel set in the Arctic called A Cage of lee. It did not. after that. take him lone to gain the reputation of "one of the modern masters of the high adventure story." He thus helped to rescue the novel, over the last decade, from a tendency to forget about a strong story-line in favour of a more impressionistic approach.
His new novel reads like a true story. from World War II. The great battleship Prince of Wales loses her escort in a raging Atlantic and her supposedly secret voyage is announced on German radio. Would the three men. waiting in Canada, pull off an intrigue that could have won the war for the Germans? The suspense is kept up and the credibility never lost.
THIS IS a touching and extremely imaginative tale or identical twins. They inhabit their own self contained world, speak their own language and read each other's thoughts. They are as intimate as lovers. More so in fact. They are lovers, but in an unusual and in no way shocking sense.
As can easily be imagined, so delicate and daring a theme takes careful handling. The author uses his strange type of "love story" as a symbol to set against a world — between the thirties and the sixties — that is torn apart by family strife. to say nothing of civilisation in peril.
The twins' love is imperilled by unfaithfulness but the symbolism is preserved and the author saves his book from ever being weighed down by over seriousness by his subtle and sophisticated humour.
That such a theme should lose nothing by being rendered in English is a tribute to that unheralded but often exquisite art, the art of the translator. The service is here rendered by Anne Carter.
THE DARK horse in question is a racehorse, bred in Britain fifty years ago and entered as favourite in the Viceroy's Cup in India. A • pre-race accident uncovers a mystery that is not unconnected with a possible miracle. The connection between the two has quite a lot to do with the Sisters of Poverty whose convent overlooks the racecourse. Rumer Godden at her best — and that's surely a high recommendation.
AT LAST the "perfect murder"? Almost.
Excellent court scenes and brilliant whiplash ending.