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McWhirter, George.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1984. 136pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-53-8 (cloth) $23.95, 0-88750-537-6 (paper) $12.95.

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Phyllis James

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

For readers who have appreciated McWhirter's poems in Fire Before Dark, this short novel will appeal with its powerful poetic prose and condensed thought. The theme of the narrative remains evident from the first to the last page. The main characters—the carefree, athletic Hutcheson, his ambitious girlfriend and the kidnapped oriental boy—are clearly and sympathetically drawn. Even minor characters, such as the boy's parents and Hutcheson's father, become familiar in a few words. The west coast setting is an important part of the story. McWhirter's clever structure uses foreshadowing, then plunges the scene ahead of the action. We know the characters by their thoughts and dreams more than by their dialogue. The prose contains some hard, cruel imagery, but also some apt and beautifully sustained metaphors.

A foreboding mood carries the reader to the final, surprise ending. Descriptions of the physical joy and exhaustion of swimming and sailing show the author's familiarity with these two activities.

He speaks of "toughening the captive boy as his father did him," and, when the boy scales a cliff faster than his captor, the phrase "Black imp and blond buffoon" comes as a surprise. The story Paula Lake will be a treat for discriminating readers. Recommended.

Phyllis James, Qualicum Beach, B.C.
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