Mimi's Ghost

Tim Parks, Author Arcade Publishing $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-55970-556-1
Expatriate Englishman Morris Duckworth, the conman, serial murderer and psychopath last seen in Juggling the Stars, is back, in the egregious effulgence of his evil and charmed life. What is a literary fellow like British author Parks (Europa) doing with a slime like Morris? Having fun, writing a wild and wacky thriller that's like sharing a roller-coaster ride with a suave maniac. Morris is an inspired mixture of loony self-regard and stupidity fueled by obtuseness. Having fatally dispatched Massamina (Mimi) Trevesan, the heiress he kidnapped in the first book, evaded the law and even ingratiated himself with Mimi's family, Morris is now married to her sister, the voraciously libidinous Paola. He's living in a luxury condominium in Verona, swanning around in his Mercedes and battling with his brother-in-law for control of the family wine company. What makes Morris so fascinating is his utterly amoral mindset. Far from suffering true guilt, Morris engages in consummate self-justification. He believes Mimi has forgiven him for her murder, which was merely a reaction ""to extreme circumstances."" Exhibiting unmistakable signs of schizophrenia, he ""sees"" Mimi and talks to her, often by car phone. It's Mimi, he thinks, who advises him to dispatch three new victims. Parks applies a wicked imagination to his ingenious plot, getting Morris into one farcically dangerous situation after another. One need not have read the first book to enjoy the frissons of suspense in this one, and readers will hope they haven't seen the last of Morris and his bizarrely lethal adventures. (Feb.) Forecast: It may be his very proflicacy (10 novels and three nonfiction books) that has kept Parks from establishing an identity on this side of the Atlantic. With the right breaks, this very funny novel could find a niche in the mode established by Elmore Leonard.
Reviewed on: 01/01/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
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