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A jeu d'esprit which didn't work for me.
on 17 February 2016
In connection with Lord Lucan being declared officially dead in February 2016, I saw mention of this novel, published in 2000, 26 years after his mysterious disappearance in 1974 after the murder of his children’s nanny and one year after probate had been granted to his family.
The novel is a jeu d’esprit. In Paris the psychiatrist Dr Hildegard Wolf, is visited by an Englishman in his sixties who claims to be Lord Lucan. This startles Dr Wolf, because she already had another patient, going by the name of pseudonym of Walker, who also claimed to be Lord Lucan. Walker feels sure that she will not hand him over to Interpol, because he has discovered that Dr Wolf is herself sought by the police, that her real name was Beate Pappenheim, and that she had absconded from Bavaria in 1986 with large funds collected while pretending to be a stigmatic.
The question arises whether the original patient Walker and the new one, now referred to as Lucky, were in league with each other: had Walker been the hitman for Lucky? Was Lucky using Walker to collect the money with which friends of Lord Lucan were supplying him? Were the odd sightings that had been reported in several parts of the world since his disappearance sightings of Walker or of Lucky? Was Lucky coming to chafe at his dependence on Walker, and was he planning to kill him?
As the story develops, I found it increasingly convoluted - and, frankly, I didn’t care: the book never captured my interest. The characters are cardboard (though we do get - repeatedly - an impression of the real Lord Lucan: so much had been written about him that Muriel Spark did not have to invent him) and I finished the book only because it is mercifully short.