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Dad on the Run

By Harald Breiding-Buss

Just when I thought I definitely can’t bear any more Grisham-style novels about lawyers of any make who put themselves up against the evil of the world which comes in the guise of big corporations or the mafia, I stumbled across this one.

Like the Grisham novels this book is fast paced and it features a wall street lawyer, but the similarities stop there. For once, in Grisham books kids never get in the way of heroes.

This is how “The Big Picture” by Douglas Kennedy starts out: Rich wall street lawyer is married to disillusioned housewife, who he met in his student heydays, when they were full of ideas of equality and ‘alternative’ careers: he in photography, she in writing. Neither of which took off, so he became a filthy rich lawyer instead and they started a family (two young boys).

She is forever grumpy about suburban New York housewife life (even though this is eased by a fulltime nanny), he forever bored with a job he never really wanted, but which he now needs to maintain the expensive life they’ve built. Sounds familiar? But wait there’s more.

She falls for a disgustingly smooth and hopelessly unsuccessful photographer in the neighbourhood, who, in her eyes, remained true to his ideals of not giving in to the bourgoise establishment, which, in his eyes, he can only afford because his daddy’s inheritance allows him to live till old age without ever earning a cent.

Naturally, our wall street lawyer found out about the liaison and decided to pay him a visit, which our photographer unfortunately does not survive.

By this stage the wife had already moved out with the kids. So here he is, stuck with a dead body in a neighbour’s house. He could do the honest thing and turn himself in, parenting his kids from prison as a convicted murderer. Or he could finish himself, still being a murderer in the memory of his children. Or…..

A dead body is at hand, so why not use it and fake your own death, and then disappear from the area. The kids will think dad’s dead, which any responsible father will agree is far better than dad’s a killer.

I won’t say any more, only that the rest of the story is testing our morals (hey, he killed someone so at the end of the book he should be caught or get some other sort of fair punishment), that it is surprisingly realistic on the emotional side, mainly the loss of his boys, and that the ending is, well, surprising.

Not exactly a book for the Pulitzer prize, but a good read nevertheless.

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