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Book Reviews

Bodies in Motion: A Matthew Prior Mystery

by Anthony Quogan

In pseudonymous Toronto mystery writer Anthony Quogan’s Bodies in Motion, recurring character Matthew Prior is commissioned to adapt Hitchcock’s train thriller The Lady Vanishes for a modern-day American audience. By way of research, he is given passage on the luxury transcontinental Flying Angel. The discovery of a murder among the all-star list of passengers moves Prior to action.

Unfortunately, it takes a while for this book to get up enough steam to actually start moving, chugging away, as it does, on awkward introductions to characters (even the minor characters get a whole chapter to create their story).

Once the doors are locked, however, and the train leaves Chicago, the book settles into a warm groove, and the hunters and the hunted settle down to a brisk game of wits, in which the interactions between principals vibrate and occasionally shine with little nuggets of idiosyncrasy and humanity.

Quogan does seem more at home describing the American frame of mind than the European one. The bumbling subplot involving the KGB-modelled spies and the contrived Irish nanny’s story seem downright clunky when placed beside the thoughtful arguments the two comic artists have regarding U.S. daytime television culture, or the Lord of the Flies-shaded vigilante maneouvers of the Boy Scout troop on board.

Bodies in Motion works very well as long as it stays within its genre, avoiding forays into farce or critique.


Reviewer: Tony Hightower

Publisher: Little, Brown


Price: $19.95

Page Count: 284 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 0-316-72921-3

Released: May

Issue Date: 1996-7

Categories: Fiction: Novels