Shadow Play

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Mr. Logo immediately strikes the reader as sinister. The London road sweeper figures prominently in Frances Fyfield’s latest story about Helen West, an attorney with the Crown Prosecution Service. As the novel opens, West has failed yet again to win a conviction against Logo, accused several times of indecent assault against schoolgirls. Formerly a campaigner for the possible innocence of those accused of crimes, West now appears obsessed with her inability to prove guilt.

Logo claims to be searching for his daughter, a teenager who disappeared four years earlier, when he approaches schoolgirls. The story gains him sympathy in court but in West’s mind does not excuse his conduct. Through the use of an omniscient point of view, Fyfield soon informs readers that there is more to Logo’s conduct than is apparent.

That point of view allows readers to appreciate the characters Fyfield creates. West and Police Superintendent Geoffrey Bailey continue their tepid affair, while Rose Darvey, an office worker at the Crown Prosecution Service, goes home with a different man each night. A chance meeting of West and Darvey brings the women closer together and involves West in Darvey’s personal problems. Although a generation apart in age and from widely different backgrounds, they share many things, including a fear of the dark. The contrasts and similarities between West and Darvey are drawn sensitively, highlighting West’s character and adding depth to the personality developed in earlier books. The befriending of Darvey by West sets in motion a chain of events that gradually knits the stories of the main characters, introduced separately, and that allows this often understated novel to end in a thrilling climax.