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M. T. Kelly.
Toronto, ON: Stoddart Publishing. 1987.
156pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-7737-2161-4. CIP.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by Jerry McDonnell.

Volume 16 Number 5
1988 September

This is a novel of retributive justice in which all the lines are blurred. Evil triumphs - or does it? The good come out sadder and perhaps wiser; the agent of retribution is insane.

The narrator, who is a journalist, finds that he cannot simply be an observer and recorder but must become an unwilling participant in events he cannot control and cannot allow to unfold as they otherwise might. The manager of a mill that is polluting a river in northwestern Ontario is taken hostage by an unbalanced Indian who also captures the journalist. The mill manager is totally unrepentant for the damage and devastation he has caused but he seems triumphant in the end. Arthur, the Indian, has the force of right on his side but cannot make it work for him, and he comes to the worst possible end. The journalist tries to help by moderating the worst effects and aims of both sides and he suffers, perhaps, the worst defeat of all.

Although this novel is slight in size it is very well written and complex in structure, theme and symbolism. It is a worthy recipient of the Governor General's Award for fiction in English and is recommended for grade 11 and 12 students of Canadian literature and for adult readers.

Jerry McDonnell, F. E. Madill Secondary School, Wingham, ON.
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