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Aiding and Abetting Paperback – 27 Sep 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; New edition edition (27 Sept. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014100990X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141009902
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.4 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 230,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Unmistakable Spark, to be relished and enjoyed, like a late vintage claret or a high-grade murder' The Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Muriel Spark's many novels include Memento Mori, The Girls of Slender Means, A Far Cry From Kensington, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie (adapted for film and theatre), Aiding And Abetting and her final novel, The Finishing School. She was elected C. Litt in 1992 and awarded the DBE in 1993. Dame Muriel received many awards, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the FNAC Prix Etranger, the Saltire Prize, the Ingersoll T. S. Eliot Award and the David Cohen British Literature Prize in recognition of a lifetime's literary achievement. Dame Muriel died in 2006.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a real treat to read, with a wonderfully appropriate grande finale which depends on surprise! A unique and suspenseful twist on the traditional murder mystery, this novel features wacky, off-the-wall characters--including two men who claim to be the murderer Lord Lucan, a variety of aristocratic "aiders and abettors" who have protected and financially supported him for twenty-five years, a psychiatrist who was once a phony stigmatic but who is now treating both "Lucans," and several former acquaintances who now want Lucan caught, only because "...times have changed...Lucky Lucan failed to show up [for questioning], which was really lowering our standards....he was a very great bore."
Satiric and mordantly critical of aristocratic pretension, this is vintage Spark. Her plot is very tight, with no loose ends and no digressions, and her selection of details is exquisitely careful and controlled. Her themes and motifs, especially those of blood as it relates to both crime and breeding, are so intricately connected to all the characters and the plot, that it is difficult to discuss them without giving away the clever plot twists. And Spark does all this in less than two hundred pages! It's impossible not to read this at a gallop to find out what happens--while smiling the whole time at Spark's wry wit. Mary Whipple
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John_the_Commonweal on 14 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
Aiding and Abetting
This book was a great disappointment, I thought - a short story padded out to roughly the length of half a novel. The Lucan story is endlessly repeated, with constant repetition of the facts of the case as researched by Spark and her 'characters', if they deserve such a title. Yes, the plot is ingenious, but too much happens for such a short book, with little development of settings or bringing incidents to life by 'showing' rather than telling.

Characterisation is superficial, Lucan in particular being a mere cardboard cut-out ('boring' characters don't have to be flat and dull!), and these characters inhabit a world which may or may not be 'real' to London metropolitan readers but which bears little resemblance to reality as most readers know it. Wodehouse without the wit, I'm afraid. Black farce needs some interest in the characters' fates, and frankly I couldn't care less what happened to any of these.

Something of a pot-boiler for Spark, I'm afraid. Don't bother.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 May 2004
Format: Paperback
The absurdities of the upper classes often amuse readers, and this one is excellent in that regard. Being the 7th Earl of Lucan doesn't mean that you have any sense, have any purpose in your life, or do any good. Regardless of all that, people will rally around to help him . . . because of the old school tie and all that.
Ms. Spark seems to have imagined her ending, and then simply developed a plot that could connect that back to the real-life murder and attempted murder that form the basis of the book.
The second story line is about a fake stigmatic from Bavaria who disappeared after stealing donated funds. Being at least a little imaginative, Beate Pappenheim will appeal to more readers than Lord Lucan will. However, she wasn't really necessary for the joke, but does give Ms. Spark the ability to stretch a short story into a novella.
To stir up a little interest, the book has a small mystery to solve. Who is Lord Lucan? In pursuing this idea of identity, the book takes off on modern psychiatry . . . basically pointing out that there's not much there. Ms. Pappenheim pretends to be a psychiatrist, ignores all the rules, and still creates a series of very devoted patients who depend on her.
Ms. Spark also explores imagery in many significant ways to develop her story. Blood is the key image. Blood ties the upper classes together. Blood is part of a woman's monthly cycle. A messy murder causes blood to be spilled. Being able to use blood in new ways creates opportunity for Ms. Pappenheim. Being able to describe what it's like to kill in cold blood is a way to identify Lord Lucan. And so on. Ms. Sharp shows her writing brilliance in these ways.
Ultimately, I was sorry that she didn't pick a more worthy subject for her humor.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoy Spark - she is rapidly becoming one of my favourite writers. I hadn't read her for about 20 years and am finding that now I am older I understand her - she's sly, subtle, vicious and very very funny.

This is an especially enjoyable example of her style - an immediately absorbing and irresistible concept: in Paris, a psychiatrist (with skeletons in her own closet), finds herself with 2 patients claiming each to be Lord Lucan.

Spark is enjoyable for her concise descriptions, believable characters, excellent dialogue (her trademark) and in this book, sharp insights and savage digs at psychiatry and the English class system, not to mention money, religion and relationships.

But this isn't a dry, wordy, serious book - it doesn't read like high concept Literature. It reads like a page-turner - and is a very fast read because, quite simply, you want to find out what happens.

'What happens' is a scream.... Highly recommended.
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