on 7 January 2014
I enjoyed this, it was an interesting way of looking at "the facts", and the story galloped along nicely. After all, with a complete lack of evidence, who is to say that this version of events wasn't based on some truths?
on 28 October 2012
I can remember Lord Lucan story from when I was a child, it has always fascinated me, so when I saw this book I thought it looked interesting. It is written from Lord Lucan's point of view, and if it is fact or fiction, I found it a great read.
on 14 September 2009
Cleverly skewing the legend of the infamous Lord Lucan, Coles sets the stage for a literary conceit that reinvents that terrible night in 1974 when a man of privilege lost his grip, botching his carefully planned murder, and where only his friends came to his rescue and offered him a chance of escape from the law. When we first meet Richard John Bingham known better as Lucky lord Lucan he has been married to Veronica for many years, but is experiencing an anxiety. Desperate to escape the strictures of his marriage, his plan is to murder his wife at their home in Belgravia is as desperate as it is audacious. Lucan is the first to admit that he's a most vile man for allowing it to happen yet Despite it all he has this skewered sense of belief that he is doing it for the good of his three children.
Of course everything goes wrong with the shocking murder of poor Sandra Rivett, who at the age of just 29 is hammered to death in the basement of Veronica's Belgravia home. The random brutality of the initial violence by Lucan's hired henchman who he never sees again, infects every facet of Lucan's being. And to be sure metaphorical house of cards has fallen far differently from how Lucan expected. After leaving his friend Susan Maxwell-Scott's house n Uckfield, Lucan's story becomes a blank canvas while he recounts his car, the Ford Corsair, found abandoned at Newhaven, the bloodstain inside, along with the piece of bandaged lead piping, unstained, but very similar to the one found in the murder house, and also his efforts to sink his beloved boat.
From here it is Coles' clever recreation of events - with typical traces of conceit and upper-class Etonian self-aggrandizement - that make Lucan's narrative so chilling. The author describes in a new, breathtaking reality the rumors that he had been whisked abroad by his fellow cronies at the Clermont Club, particularly his friendship with Apsers, a millionaire gambler and big-hitter who chats away with of if he'd done nothing of any consequence than be picked up from the station and who shelters him in the basement of his home, in a dark airless, windowless bunker for nearly four months. There's also Lucan's sense of self-righteousness in the moments straight after Sandra's murder and his apology to the doomed woman that is so outrageous when considering his brutally honest account of how he wanted to dump Veronica's dead body in the English Channel.
But what transforms the case from that of a squalid domestic murder into something altogether more electrifying is not so much the horror of Sandra's death is Coles' fascinating recreation of Lucan's disappearance, his journey to Goa, India via a cramped container with its fug of stale air in the storage hold of a cargo ship, and that of his arch nemesis Jimmy Goldsmith who dispatches him with all the indifference of "a schoolboy stamping a spider." Lucan becomes his plaything when Jimmy soon introduces him to hashish and then the very act of stepping into the abyss becomes a total blueprint for the creation of a heroin addict with all of the smoking and then the full-on mainlining.
Constantly speaking in Lucan's voice, Coles' prose is both uncharacteristically lyrical and morbidly penetrating as he cautiously examines Lucan's soulful regrets for Sandra, the awful sight of her tiny body tucked into a US mailbag, and his internal agonies as an outcast, never able to see his three children again, and his drug-fuelled ramblings where he goes in the run through India, convinced that Goldsmith is constantly out to get him. In fact, Lucan's weary acceptance of his fate, his life as a drug-addled tramp in Goa seems to cast him in an unusually sympathetic light. Coles constantly manipulates his protagonist, and by in turns the reader, in a cadaverous portrait of a murderer who must do battle with his demons as he looks for some sort of redemption that eludes him. Mike Leonard September 09.
on 5 April 2014
I rather expected a light and possibly sensational read, but this turned out to be a really good book. It is a convincing fictional account of Lucan's escape and subsequent life, and evokes convincingly the dilemmas he might have faced. At times quite moving, especially in its evocation of loyalty and friendship and loss. Don't be put off by the rather slow and repetitive first few pages- it's well worth sticking with.
on 1 June 2009
A gripping account, in the Earl of Lucan's own words, of what happened to `Lucky' Lucan after his famous disappearance in 1974. We find out who killed the nanny, how Lucan evaded the police, and how loyal friends spirited him out of the country. Coles creates a convincing voice for Lucan - so stiff upper lip that he can kiss his children only when they are asleep - and a colourful portrait of the Clermont set, notably the eccentric gambler and casino owner John Aspinall. The tragedy of Lucan's life unfolds as his memoir reveals his gradual physical and mental deterioration, haunted by guilt, remorse - and paranoia. A great read, highly recommended.
on 17 June 2009
Having read this author's debut - a coming-of-age insight into Eton life, something as alien to me as the Sweden-set crime thrillers of Henning Mankell - I was interested to see he had 'edited' Lord Lucan's life story. What a journalistic coup, I naively thought. But actually, what a great conceit - the author's prologue, tongue firmly in cheek, tells us that a couple of years back he was invited to the offices of a London solicitor. There, he was given access to a loosely collected bundle of sheaves that proved to be a manuscript of Lucky's memoirs. He then 'edited' these rambling scribblings. What he has achieved is a thoroughly enjoyable - if fantastic - account of what happened to one of the great fugitives of the 20th-century crime. Lucan's heroin-addicted delusional obsession with Jimmy Goldsmith as the architect and puppet-master of his misfortune is inspired. From his flight to Belgravia (true), his being squirrelled away by John Aspinall (plausible) and his years of exile as a smackhead in Goa (complete fantasy, and none the worse for it), this is a compelling page-turner. I read it in one sitting. One of the highlights has to be the deluded, drug-crazed peer's flight to the hill forts of Mysore, retracing the steps of fellow-Etonian Wellington - and it is there that one of the more shocking and visceral passages occurs, like so many passages, fantastic, yet based on meticulous historical research. If Lucky is still 'lying doggo' out there somewhere, please, please - one of his friends, give him a copy. He will be spellbound, as I was. Well done.
on 6 August 2013
This is Lord Lucan's story in his own words. Lucan has botched the murder of his estranged wife and his children's nanny, Sandra, has died instead. Lucan then goes on the run. With the help of powerful friends like Jimmy Goldsmith he flees abroad and lives out his days in a torment of drug addiction.
This is not the best written book you'll ever read and not the most sparkling prose, but it isn't meant to be. This is supposed to be the memoirs of a man who has been addicted to heroin for many years and he's not the sharpest tool in the kit. I think William Coles has done a great job in creating the voice of a classically educated but not very intelligent man, and long-term addict labouring under his self inflicted guilt. Coles's Lucan comes across as a very selfish man. Most of his regrets are for his own lost lifestyle and he rarely thinks of the hurt he has caused others by his actions.
The concept is clever and unusual. Lucan's 'editor' has supposedly stumbled across these, Lucan's manuscript reminiscences. Of course it's absurd. Why on Earth would Jimmy Goldsmith go to such trouble to exact revenge on Lucan when he could have just handed him in? And why would Lucan endure such a dreadful exile when fifteen years in a British jail would have been preferable? But it's meant to be absurd. What William Coles has created is, first and foremost, a satire on conspiracy theory. In that respect, it's very well done.