In The Light of Day, Booker Prize-winning author Graham Swift takes readers into the mind of an ex-cop turned private investigator, who mulls over his relationship with a former client jailed for murdering her husband. In classic noir fashion, Webb has fallen for his client and anxiously awaits her release. Moreover, Webb had been called in to track the husband's affair, and Webb's role in the crime remains dubious. Swift's novel is somewhat in the vein of stream-of-consciousness style; Webb's thoughts are described, as they take place throughout a single day, in no particular order and without adhering to any strict plot structure. The novel's strength is indeed its structure: it is based not on chronology but as if on a sort of emotional resonance, with Webb's thoughts and preoccupations providing the novel with a depth not normally found in traditional detective novels. As an example, Swift writes of Webb's recollection of tailing the husband, after he had ended the affair and put his ex-lover on a plane:
He headed back towards the car park. In his shoes what would I have done? Found some spot that looked out on the runways? Pressed my nose against cold glass? All those taxiing lights. All those trundling planes, the people inside them like mere possibilities. At night it's hard to follow....
Webb is a fallible gumshoe who doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve, but, thanks to Swift's deft prose, has the range of his emotions revealed as he looks toward the future and contemplates his past actions in The Light of Day
. --Michael Ferch
--This text refers to the Hardcover
From Publishers Weekly
George Webb, a divorced ex-cop and the narrator of this fine novel, works as a private investigator in London specializing in "matrimonial work": finding evidence of philandering. Some of the tearful women who enter his office become lovers (one, Rita, becomes his heart-of-gold assistant), but Sarah Nash becomes something altogether different. A language teacher and translator, she wants Webb to follow her husband and his lover, Kristina Lazic, a refugee taken in by the Nashes, to the airport "to see if she really goes"-alone-back to Croatia. Sarah knows the truth of the affair already; she's just looking for a sign that her husband can love her again. But the story belongs to Webb, through a masterful interior monologue that links the action of the present with a meditation on the past. Webb's movements on a particular day in November furnish the opportunity to learn about his childhood, his failed marriage, his career as a policeman terminated by a minor scandal and his constrained and lonely life. Sarah becomes Webb's opportunity for a second chance at happiness and redemption. But that reality will have to wait until her release from prison (it's not giving away the plot to note her crime: the murder of her husband). While this story sounds a bit like an American noir thriller from the 1930s (and Swift's title may be a nod to the noir fascination with night and shadow), the Booker Prize-winning author (for Last Orders) is after bigger themes: the weight of history, the role of fate, the inexplicable vagaries of love. Though perhaps not at the level of Last Orders, this beautifully written novel is a worthwhile addition to the Swift canon.
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.