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Bradford Morrow: Giovanni’s Gift

After the comparative success of Trinity Fields, Morrow’s agent called on him to write a great novel to break him out of the crowd. After a few false starts, this is the result and I am afraid it has not broken him out of the crowd and nor will it. Grant, the narrator, is a footloose sort of guy. He has been living in Rome with his wife, Mary, but their marriage has broken up. In Rome, he was doing a variety of odd jobs. His parents are dead – killed in a mysterious accident – but he seems to be closest to his Uncle Henry and Aunt Edmé. Henry was an architect but they have now retired to an isolated ranch out in the boonies where Henry grew up. At the start of the novel, their tranquillity is shattered by an unwanted visitor who plays loud music at night and who generally bugs them. Neither Henry nor the local sheriff, Noah, can catch the intruder. At this point our hero returns from Rome, seeking only the excuse of his aunt and uncle’s concern.

Of course, it turns into a rather straightforward mystery novel. Who is the intruder and why, who is hiding dark secrets from whom and why and is Grant going to get laid? I am sure that I am giving nothing away when I say that the answer to the last question is yes. As for the rest it is soon fairly obvious what is going in, even though Grant fails to see it and, moreover, deliberately drags it out, instead of closing quickly as he could easily have done. So, someone had an affair with someone in the past and they had an illegitimate child and someone got killed to shut him up. Shock! Horror! Who cares? Io, no.

Publishing history

First published 1997 by Viking