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The Finger of Saturn by Victor Canning
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The Finger of Saturn (1973)

by Victor Canning

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Your wife goes out for a drive and never comes back; her car is found abandoned in a lay-by and there's no trace of her for the next three years, until an agent from a shadowy government department turns up one day to tell you that she's alive and well and living a new life as a different person. So begins The Finger of Saturn by the now out-of-favour British thriller writer Victor Canning (1911-86).

Robert Rolt eventually finds his wife, Sarah, but when she comes back she's different. Is she who she says she is? Where had she been? What has she been doing for three years, and why doesn't she recognise her husband? Then there's the enigmatic Albert Chinn and Sarah's over-bearing mother, who seems to know an awful lot more about her disappearance than she's prepared to let on.

This is an exciting read, and Canning delivers a fairly intricate plot which is original and something different from the norm. Robert narrates the story at a fairly rapid pace, and it's impossible not to get caught up in the mystery of Sarah's absence and the way in which a 'little local difficulty' for a Dorset country gent has far-reaching consequences.

The writing is a little stilted at times, and there's one or two clunky clichés when it comes to characterisation, but on the whole I enjoyed this escapist story. Will certainly reacquaint myself with Canning's work, and am especially going to look out for a copy of the Rainbird Pattern, which was adapted for Hitchcock and turned out to be his final film (re-titled Family Plot). The Melting Man sounds intriguing as well...

© Koplowitz 2013 ( )
  Ant.Harrison | Apr 28, 2013 |
Your wife goes out for a drive and never comes back; her car is found abandoned in a lay-by and there's no trace of her for the next three years, until an agent from a shadowy government department turns up one day to tell you that she's alive and well and living a new life as a different person. So begins The Finger of Saturn by the now out-of-favour British thriller writer Victor Canning (1911-86).

Robert Rolt eventually finds his wife, Sarah, but when she comes back she's different. Is she who she says she is? Where had she been? What has she been doing for three years, and why doesn't she recognise her husband? Then there's the enigmatic Albert Chinn and Sarah's over-bearing mother, who seems to know an awful lot more about her disappearance than she's prepared to let on.

This is an exciting read, and Canning delivers a fairly intricate plot which is original and something different from the norm. Robert narrates the story at a fairly rapid pace, and it's impossible not to get caught up in the mystery of Sarah's absence and the way in which a 'little local difficulty' for a Dorset country gent has far-reaching consequences.

The writing is a little stilted at times, and there's one or two clunky clichés when it comes to characterisation, but on the whole I enjoyed this escapist story. Will certainly reacquaint myself with Canning's work, and am especially going to look out for a copy of the Rainbird Pattern, which was adapted for Hitchcock and turned out to be his final film (re-titled Family Plot). The Melting Man sounds intriguing as well...

© Koplowitz 2013 ( )
  Ant.Harrison | Apr 2, 2013 |
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The last age, heralded in Cumean song, is come, and the great march of the centuries begins anew.  Now the Virgin returns: now Saturn is king again, and a new and better race descends from on high.

-Virgil. Eclogues
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