History Margot. Livesey CRIMINALS.

ISBN 13: 9780099285885

CRIMINALS.

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9780099285885: CRIMINALS.

Mollie's brother finds an infant abandoned at the bus station and brings it to Mollie, a troubled woman who takes hold of the child as her own, until the cunning boyfriend of a woman missing her baby sees a place for profit and begins to make his moves. Reprint. NYT.

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Review:

Criminals is a tweaked gothic. Instead of a dark castle, there is an average Scottish farmhouse, Mill of Fortune. There is nothing supernatural, and the love story is all in one character's mind, nearly losing him his livelihood. Ewan is less a knight-at-arms than a London businessman, and his sister is the madwoman. Mollie, however, is not in the attic, but very much up and about after her novelist-lover has left her. Ewan knows he must check on her and heads for Scotland. During a bus layover, he hears a small whimper and is amazed to find a baby in a bathroom stall. Hearing his bus about to leave, he grabs the bundle and ends up taking it with him.

Unfortunately, Mollie's reaction is not one he had hoped for: instead of calling the police, she lays siege, and their criminal career begins. Margot Livesey is clearly interested in exploring one question: How much do you really know about your family? For six chapters, the narration goes back and forth between brother and sister, but the seventh is a surprise--devoted to the man who left the baby on the filthy floor. Kenneth's thought processes are sinister and idiotic, giving him a great deal of comic energy. Having followed Ewan to Mill of Fortune, he is determined to bilk him out of as much money as possible. "Ideas, he thought, I am an ideas man." As Kenneth does his brutal best and Ewan is caught up in insider-trading complications, Mollie--still hanging onto the child--grows increasingly paranoid: "She heard something. Had Ewan spoken? Had the table? She examined each in turn. The sleek wood had grown oddly smug and duplicitous ..." Livesey is an expert practitioner of the fiction of threat, the novel of isolation and misery in which the family is a nest of sorrows.

From the Inside Flap:

With dark poetry and domestic acuity, the author of Homework shows how families pull together, form themselves anew, and occasionally fly apart at the seams. Ranging from Scotland to America to Italy--and to a novel-within-a-novel--Criminals brilliantly captures the stories of complicated, sympathetic people who try to do right but turn somehow wrong. LG Alternate.

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Livesey, Margot
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