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As one who is adroit at skirting the relatives with whom he lives, to genially oblige their hatred of him, Count Maltravers is so engaging a character that his death early on seems a disappointment. Readers are soon encouraged by the news that he has escaped from his tomb, lively as ever. Resurrected as Fortescue, Maltravers decides to travel incognito and train a young athlete, schooling him in all the graces, to carry on in his stead. At one point the older con artist is tracking his youthful successor, who is in turn attempting a ruse of his own, all a few steps ahead of the police. This comedy of manners is punctuated throughout by Maltravers's urbane observations. For example, he says of women: "They are so close to life that it is no longer a sensation for them, but merely a competition." But amid the count's many exotic and specious ramblings, he also notes the "sensational" nature of morality. This first English edition of a tale by Lernet-Holenia (see also review above) captivatingly vivifies the European between-wars shattering and re-creation of values.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.