Review

Staring at the Light

by

It
was the best of crimes (if there can be such a thing); it was the
worst of crimes. The aptly named Cannon and his evil twin Johnnyboy
confront each other after years apart, having taken different paths
in life. Here we meet the rich, successful brother with no
recognized code of behavior and the poor, struggling brother with
the inferiority complex. In a most suspenseful and grisly setting,
a Sidney Carton-type character concludes that 'it is a far, far
better thing I do than I have ever done,' and thus sets the scene
for the inevitable showdown between Good and Evil.
Sarah Fortune is a maverick London lawyer in a firm whose
partners disapprove of her. They will not make her a partner, but
they want her to stay around to handle the grunt work. Sarah, who
travels with all the fervor of a person who believes it is better
to travel hopefully than it is to arrive, is troubled but
unconcerned. Other characters are troubled --- and
concerned.
Essential to the story line is Sarah's aunt, Sister Pauline,
worldly advisor to Sarah and de facto leader of the convent nuns.
She secretly feels that the problem with prayer is the rarity of
seeing the result, and she is always delighted and surprised when
God, acting in His mysterious ways, answers her prayers.
In
this book Frances Fyfield has given us a thoughtful psychological
suspense novel painstakingly crafted and beautifully written. Her
superb characterizations are the stark opposite of Robert Parker's
Spenser series or John Sandford's Lucas Davenport series,
entertaining as those novels are. Fyfield develops her characters
through detailed introspection. It is as though we are listening to
the characters talk to themselves --- thinking, plotting, worrying,
enjoying.
From
the Guy Fawkes bonfire opening scene to a Marathon Man dental chair
scene to a surprise ending reminiscent of O. Henry, Fyfield treats
us to a meticulously detailed plot line. Only in retrospect do we
understand the necessity for this scrupulous attention to detail,
and only in retrospect do we see that the surprising turns have
been subtly forecast with skillful writing. This reviewer went back
to read the last two pages twice…just to be sure.
Precision writing is truly a gift, and only a relatively few
writers of popular fiction today are blessed with it. Syndicated
film critic Roger Ebert had this to say about the movie adaptation
of Stephen King's The Green Mile. ""It tells a story with
beginning, middle, end, vivid characters, humor, outrage and
emotional release. Dickensian."" Ebert could well have been talking
about
STARING AT THE LIGHT.

Reviewed by Chuck Lang on January 23, 2011

Staring at the Light
by

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
  • ISBN-10: 0140298452
  • ISBN-13: 9780140298451