Sat 18 Jun 2011
T. G. GILPIN – Death of a Fantasy Life. St. Martin’s, US, hardcover, 1993. First published in the UK: Quartet, hardcover, 1988.
I reviewed what I thought was Gilpin’s first novel, Is Anybody There?, for Mystery News, and thought it was a very good and off-beat story. But it turns out that this was his first, published in England in 1988 and only now appearing here.
Speaking of unlikely teams, how about a professor of theoretical linguistics and a Soho stripper? The professor comes to town seeking an erratic and unlovable nephew of whom he is the guardian, and while having a pint in a pub meets a stripper when she mistakes him for someone else.
One of her friends has been murdered a short time before, and it turns out that the erratic nephew knew her; as is true of the next stripper who is murdered, very quickly.
The prof and the stripper get their heads together, he out of concern for the nephew, she for the sorority of strippers, but they come to no conclusions, and the alliance dies aborning when the somewhat sexless prof rebuffs her friendly (no more, surely) advances.
He is unable to settle back into his routine, however, and when certain events occur he is drawn back in to the world well lost.
This is one of those books of a peculiarly British type; not farcical, but with a cast of characters just slightly askew. It’s not humorous in a thigh-slapping sense, but somehow the overall tone is one of gentle humor.
Gilpin is a literate and enjoyable stylist who seems to like the people about whom he writes, and I think you will, too. This doesn’t have the depth of Is Anyone There?, but it’s defintely worth reading. I particularly liked the ending.
Bibliography: Adapted from the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin –
GILPIN, T(imothy) G., 1946- .
Death of a Fantasy Life (n.) Quartet 1988; St. Martin’s, 1993.
Is Anybody There? (n.) Constable 1991; St. Martin’s, 1992.
Missing Daisy (n.) Constable 1995; St. Martin’s, 1995