Synopses & Reviews
Muriel Spark, one of Britain's greatest living novelists, returns to the literary stage with her most wickedly amusing and subversive novel in years, a savagely witty tale of murder and escape based on the notorious real-life case of Lord Lucan.
A dissolute member of the British aristocracy, "Lucky" Lucan has been missing since he accidentally murdered his children's nanny in an abortive attempt on his wife's life. His puzzling disappearance in the mid-seventies created a sensation in Britain and a tantalizing mystery as yet unsolved. In Muriel Spark's daring and sophisticated fictional version of Lucan's flight, his adversary is Beate Pappenheim, a fake Bavarian stigmatic who embezzled millions from devout followers before assuming a new identity as a celebrated psychiatrist. These two inhabitants of the farther shores of morality collide memorably in Spark's brilliant new novel, where "aiding and abetting" Lord Lucan's well-padded fugitive life is the name of the beastly upper-class game, and a duel of wits plays out with potentially mortal consequences. The artful murderer meets the master con-woman, but who will emerge victorious?
In part a rumination on the nature of evil, in part a damning indictment of upper-class mores, Aiding and Abetting is a dark and dazzling entertainment from a writer whose clear-eyed judgments never intrude upon her narrative legerdemain. Here is proof beyond doubt that Muriel Spark retains her crown as the most distinguished and entertaining moral satirist of her day.
"Aiding and Abetting is quintessential Spark; elegantly pared down, indeed, that it reminds one of a society beauty whose fine bones last on to general admiration." The Sunday Telegraph (Britain)
"Spark's economical, elliptical prose is alive with understated comedy; one has a sense that her talent for farce is constantly held in check by the seriousness of her ideas...[an] exceptionally intelligent book." The Guardian (Britain)
"Muriel Spark is herself something of a true miracle-worker, with her electrifying opus, her riveting narrative tangles of moral ambiguities, satirically sinister incidents and unusually forceful pronouncements, delivered with aplomb." The Times Literary Supplement (Britain)
"Spark treats this true crime story with her characteristic wit, and the result is a darkly comic mystery adventure which will keep you enthralled until the end." The List (Britain)
"Spark at 82 can still manipulate characters so daringly their most improbable acts seem self-generated; in this instance, two men who claim to be the murderous Lord Lucan (missing since 1974) gang up to blackmail a Paris psychiatrist who is as unlikely as they are." New York Times, Notable Books 2001
About the Author
Muriel Spark was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1918. She is the author of twenty-one novels as well as collections of short stories, criticism, and poetry. Her most celebrated works include The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), The Comforters (1957), The Girls of Slender Means (1963), The Mandelbaum Gate (1965), The Driver's Seat (1970), Loitering with Intent (1981), and A Far Cry from Kensington (1988). She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1993 and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres in 1996. She lives in Tuscany, Italy.