The Whole World
Delacorte, May 25 2010, $25.00
At Cambridge, blind Professor Gretchen Paul is conducting research into her mother, a novelist who wrote five books about a young woman trying to become a published author in the 1950s. Gretchen has three students (Polly from New Hampshire, Liv from California and Nick from England), doing her research.
However, Nick stuns his employer when he informs her that her mother was not her biological mother. He insists she was a psychopathic fan who managed to get close to the author and ultimately took over the writer’s life. If true, a shocked Gretchen realizes her belief that her mom sacrificed her writing career to raise her was false; her mom had no writing career to sacrifice. While Gretchen struggles with Nick’s assertion, he tries to seduce Polly, but she turns ill instead as his efforts remind her that her father killed her boyfriend. Nick vanishes as Polly’s mom arrives from New England. Inspector Morris investigates Nick’s disappearance, but Nick is okay suffering from a bad sprain. When Nick drives to Cambridge in the dark, he loses control and runs over Gretchen who Morris learns was already dead before Nick hit her. Her spouse Harry is also dead while Liv considers going home since her parents can no longer afford Cambridge and she can no longer afford Nick’s rejection.
Told in five chapters by the three students, the professor and the cop; The Whole World is a fascinating academic family thriller that has too many subplots as each of the key players and several support cast members carry too much baggage that is explored. Polly, who’s the lead off hitter, steals the show with what happened to her back in New Hampshire that disturbs her. Overall readers will enjoy Emily Winslow’s Cambridge based murder mystery although at times the prime story line is overwhelmed with sidebars.