by Catherine Gildiner
480 pages,
ISBN: 0676976530

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First Novels
by W.P. Kinsella

Seduction by Catherine Gildiner, (Knopf Canada, $34.95, 480 pages, ISBN:0676976530). Here we have a very long and elegantly written intellectual murder mystery, set in 1982, that is definitely not for the read by weight crowd. Kate Fitzgerald has served almost ten years in prison for murdering her husband. While there she has seriously studied Freud, and in academic circles she has come to be regarded as somewhat of an expert. The director of the Freud Academy, one Anders Konzak, has let it be known that he has information that will discredit Freud in a number of areas. Kate's prison psychiatrist, a Dr. Gardonne, is also head of an American psychoanalytic association with 20,000 members. Gardonne arranges a temporary leave for Kate, hiring her to find out what exactly Konzak is planning to reveal. Gardonne teams her with an American detective named Jackie, who has an even worse criminal past than Kate, though he has been on the straight and narrow for quite a few years. It is like setting up Hepburn and Bogart on the African Queen; they are bound to clash. The duo travels from Toronto to Vienna, to London, then back to New York and Toronto. There are long conversations discussing the works of Freud and Darwin, which are accessible and often entertaining. There is one murder, then another. Kate is first on the scene of each, and becomes a suspect even in the eyes of her hard-boiled partner, and Gardonne, who turns out not to be who or what he claims to be. One of the revelations close to the end is not believable, and what may be a grievous error in dates on page 442 knocks the whole timeline out of kilter. Still, the action is fast, and the are characters exceptionally well-drawn. Serious subject matter is lightened with humor, as for instance, when Kate, rebuffed by her detective partner, laments, "I must be the only woman alive that a sex addict refused to sleep with."

W. P. Kinsella received the Order of British Columbia, June 29, in Victoria.

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