Sunday, December 23, 2007

Next of Kin-John Boyne

Next of Kin
John Boyne
Dunne, Feb 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312357979

In 1936, Hitler is becoming the rage on the content; in England, the public affair between King Edward VIII and the commoner widow Mrs. Simpson holds the public’s attention, but not Owen Montignac. Instead he believes his prayers have been answered with the timely death of his wealthy Uncle Peter. Owen owes £50,000 to casino boss Nicholas Delfy that must be paid in full by Christmas or he will spend the New Year and beyond with his deceased relative. However, to his dismay Owen learns his prayers went unanswered as dear Uncle Peter left him out of the will as deserving cousin Stella got everything. Desperation calls for desperate measures.

Gareth Bentley’s responsible father a judge is outraged at the irresponsibility of his son as he only pursues pleasure ever since Stella imitated him when she was sixteen and he fifteen. Dad, a lawyer, considers cutting off funds to his son. However, before his parents consider leaving him without a pound to his name, the police suspect Gareth killed Stella’s beloved Raymond. Stunned he pleads with his father to help him; insisting he is a victim of a clever frame from someone who knows him intimately and took advantage of his escapades. Desperation calls for desperate measures, but who would go that far.

This is an interesting historical mystery that uses King Edward’s final days on the throne as a backdrop to a fascinating murder mystery that has its roots back a decade ago. However, Owen and Gareth are despicable individuals with no redeeming qualities. It is Gareth's parents who struggle with their conscience as they go out of their way to save their son; Judge Roderick especially hurts thinking back to those he condemned for hanging without an ounce of pity as he must choose between his values and his son. Readers will enjoy NEXT OF KIN as the past haunts their present.

Harriet Klausner