Andrew Taylor, “The Judgement of Strangers”

Well, that was disturbing. I can see what Taylor’s up to now and it’s pretty clever. The Judgement of Strangers interlocks with The Four Last Things in interesting ways and the third novel (which I will read, albeit with trepidation) promises to reveal yet further tantalizing secrets. So it’s a little bit like “The Norman Conquests,” only not as much fun.

In fact, not by a long shot. This book is narrated by David Byfield, who appears in The Four Last Things as a secondary character. Taylor’s created a believable character here, but not an appealing one, and it’s something of a penance to have to, well, endure the events of the novel (murder, drug addiction, infidelity, Anglican priests run amok) through his perceptions. He’s a coward and a prig and very adept at self-deception, which is a feat for Taylor, so let’s give him credit for that. But that’s the risk you run, having such a man narrate — your reader may get fed up.  This reader very nearly did. I suppose it’s a tribute to the power of curiosity that I’m even going to pick up the third volume.

About carolwallace

I spend most of my time writing and reading. Most recent publications: the reissue of "To Marry an English Lord,"one of the inspirations for "Downton Abbey," and the historical novel "Leaving Van Gogh." I am too cranky to belong to a book group but I love the book-blogging community.
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