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.