February 17, 2003

On The Edge, by Peter Lovesey

This short novel by Peter Lovesey is a variant on the "Strangers on a Train" theme. It's set in England in the late 1940's, a few years after the end of World War II. Two woman, friends in the WAAF during the early part of the war, meet on the street after a parting of some six years. One had married a heroic RAF wing commander only to discover that heroism takes you only so far in civilian life; the other had married a wealthy engineer only to find that money wasn't everything. Both think maybe they'd be better off without their husbands.

But this isn't an account of how the police crack what could have been the perfect murder. It's the story of the two women, Rose and Antonia, and the steps they take to gain their ends.

As usual for Lovesey, the characters are clearly drawn, three-dimensional, and compelling; the plot is convoluted and surprises are many. Plus, his depiction of the post-war years has such detail and immediacy that Jane (who also read it) was quite shocked to find that it was published in 1989.

Though compelling, I wouldn't call this a delightful book; while not gruesome, it was nevertheless like watching Humpty Dumpty fall off of the wall in slow motion. You know he's scrambled for good, and yet you can't help watching.

Posted by Will Duquette at February 17, 2003 07:48 PM