The Testing of Luther Albright by MacKenzie Bezos

Teenager in a web of suspense

Luther has a 15-year-old son, Eliot, and finds his paternal love tested at least nine times in the course of a year as his life begins to fall apart. Luther isn't sure if his son is deliberately setting these tests, or whether his changing behaviour is simply a result of the usual teenage angst. But from the opening line of the novel, it's clear that the consequences will be terminal.

Bezos spins a web of suspense through her meticulously observed narrative to ensnare each character: the confused boy, the comforting mother and, most successfully, the profoundly repressed civil-engineer father, Luther.

The greatest trial comes as Eliot decides to research the life of his paternal grandfather, forcing Luther to face the harsher side of his character and posing questions about the heredity of temperament. With a lightness of touch that seems almost flippant after such a lengthy build-up, Bezos brings her cast to account with a satisfying, if anticlimactic conclusion.

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