There is no life without a double life. And yet one grows weary...Recently promoted to the position of Crown Court judge-jealous colleagues suggest it might be because he is black-Daniel Savage decides at midlife that it's finally time to settle down, foreswear philandering, and rededicate himself to his family.His career demands the most responsible behavior-he must be above suspicion.But Savage has been leading a double life for far too long, and a young woman from his past-who holds a secret that could ruin his career and marriage-begins making mysterious calls to his house.As tangled lies are solemnly ironed out in his court, Judge Savage finds his own existence suddenly descending into a mess of violence and confusion, and attempts desperately to get a grip on his world in the face of increasingly certain disaster.
Using the same captivating narrative technique as in 1999's highly acclaimed Europa, Parks relates the dizzying tale of a man in crisis. The veteran British author employs a modified version of interior monologue to capture the crash and roar of the life of Daniel Savage, a judge in England's Crown Court circuit. Savage is a man in free fall. His turbulent 20-year marriage is again on the rocks, this time because of his brief affair with a 20-year-old Korean woman who served on one of his juries. Sarah, Savage's 18-year-old daughter, has decided to skip college and join a Christian sect. His best friend, Martin, has again fallen into the throes of a crippling depression, and Savage tries, but predictably fails, to beat back the amorous advances of Martin's wife. Parks, author of 16 works of fiction and nonfiction, sets all this up through Savage's frantic, at times hilarious narration. Adding to the dynamic is Savage's own perception of himself; he's a colored man of "obscurely mixed origin" who is wracked by an odd form of guilt because he never seems to pay the price for his personal and professional indiscretions. The somewhat scattered plot picks up pace when Savage is beaten into a coma by the husband and brothers of his Korean mistress. But that incident even works in his favor when the press, ignorant of the actual facts, makes him a hero. As will happen, however, Savage's luck runs out, and when it does, it goes all at once. Parks allows his plot to become a little long-winded at times, particularly during the novel's many court scenes. Yet his inventive prose, incisive social commentary and bizarre sense of scene and character reaffirm his standing as one of England's better stylists. (Sept.) Forecast: Parks has produced a few humorous thrillers (Mimi's Ghost, etc.), and this novel has elements of suspense, but it should be classed with his straight-ahead literary novels (Destiny; Europa; etc.) and will be reviewed accordingly. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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December 03, 2011
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