Beyond Recall

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

At an outdoor wedding party in Cornwall, middle-aged Christopher Napier, the uncle of the bride, is accosted by an unexpected intruder. Napier is surprised to recognize the disheveled and distraught man as Nicky Lanyon, the childhood companion he has not seen for over thirty years—not since Nicky’s father was arrested and convicted for the murder of Chris’ great-uncle, the wealthy Joshua Carnoweth, the man from whom Chris’ family inherited their present affluence.

For his own undisclosed reasons, Nicky has chosen this moment to return to protest his father’s innocence of the crime for which he was hanged more than three decades in the past. “Who killed my father?” he begs Chris. “Who did it?” Although Chris Napier dismisses his old chum’s question as the product of a disarranged mind, he is forced to reconsider when the dawn of the following morning reveals Nicky Lanyon hanging from the branch of a tree amidst the scattered debris of the wedding party.

Compelled to understand the meaning of Nicky’s question, Chris is soon surprised to realize that his own memories of the events surrounding Joshua Carnoweth’s death do not bear up under scrutiny. No motive was ever offered to explain why the elder Lanyon would murder the man from whom he was due to inherit a major fortune. All the same, at the time of Carnoweth’s death, no one questioned that Lanyon had done the deed.

As Chris Napier questions his own thirty-year-old memories—and delves into the conduct of other members of his own family—he shines a bright light on a dark, and tantalizingly incomplete fabric of circumstances woven from the threads of corruption, greed, lies, child abuse, and good, old-fashioned revenge.