Top positive review
A literary mystery and a lesson in integrity
Reviewed in Australia on 28 February 2019
In this quiet and fascinating story Caddie is working in a Brisbane bookshop after abandoning a career in academe. She goes to an exhibition - Fragments - showcasing remnants of the life of much-loved prize winning author Inga Karlson who died in a New York warehouse fire in 1939. The warehouse was full of brand new copies of Inga’s keenly awaited second novel. At the exhibition Caddie meets an elderly woman who quotes a sentence from the second novel somewhat differently from the extant scrap. Her name is Rachel Lehrer. Caddie (Cadence) was named for the lead character of the first, famous novel.
Alternating chapters chart Caddie’s increasing interest in the Karlson story in 1986 and Rachel’s story in pre-WWII US. We learn that Rachel knew Inga well. Very well. Two other people join Caddie in her interest: Jamie, who runs an antiquarian bookshop and Philip, a charming, egocentric and ruthless academic who was once Caddie’s lover. Jamie was also once Philip’s student. Philip appropriated Jamie’s work on Karlson as his own. Just as sparks between Caddie and Jamie are starting to fly, Caddie visits Philip for the first time in years and asks if the typesetter for Inga’s second book could have been female, thinking that this may account for Rachel’s knowledge of the second book. This is enough for Philip to start chasing dreams of academic glory and money and citing a family emergency, he flies to the US to see what he can find out. In the end, Caddie agrees to work on the arson angle, which involves an American Nazi, leaving Rachel and everything else to Philip. It’s beyond embarrassing for Caddie when Jamie discovers that she’s working with Philip. She also has severe doubts about forcing Rachel (when they find her) to become involved in what will be a blast of publicity worldwide.
We begin to guess the truth of what happened (which is a very nice twist) and Caddie pulls off a seriously good stunt to save Rachel from Philip and the limelight. Well written and intriguing. Gives a terrific sense of Brisbane too.