Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark

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Dame Muriel's 21st novel adds to the stock of urban myths surrounding the whereabouts of Lord Lucan. Ambiguous and even perverse though her scenario proves to be, 82-year old Spark's smartly turned out prose still retains its distinctive bite.

Hildegard Wolf is a German psychiatrist practicing in Paris. She lives a comfortable life: two gay men service her domestic needs, while a French boyfriend sees to the rest. When she is approached by a client claiming to be the missing Lord Lucan, she is intrigued, especially as he is the second "Lucky" Lucan to have sought her professional help in recent weeks. Not only is it unclear which of the two men is an impostor, but a question mark hangs over Hildegard's own identity. The action of the novel then switches from Paris to Scotland as a book writing socialite, Lacey Twickenham, attempts to hunt down the elusive nanny-basher, baiting him with lamb chops and smoked salmon.

Part Buchanesque romp through the Scottish glens, part chilling psycho-drama, this novel gives Spark much to say on the subject of blood: Lord Lucan's blue variety protecting him from arrest, Nanny Rivett's excessive bleeding regarded by the peer's immediate circle as irredeemably common.