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Criminals    by Margot Livesey order for
by Margot Livesey
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2005 (1996)

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* * *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

Investment banker and bachelor, Ewan Munro, is leaving London for a weekend visit with his sweet but mentally troubled older sister Mollie at Mill of Fortune, Scotland. Mollie has recently split up with her live in lover, an author named Chae, and is now alone. After receiving a troubling letter from Mollie, Ewan acquiesces to her plea to visit him.

What Ewan hopes will be a normal, uneventful trip is simply not meant to be that becomes clear when Ewan finds an infant abandoned in the men's restroom at the bus station. She appears to be about four months old and has light brown skin (suggesting Indian descent). Of course, Ewan gathers up the baby but flustered, he also boards his bus, fearing that it may drive off with his luggage. When Ewan and baby arrive at his sister's home, Mollie is taken with the infant. After a few half-hearted, unsuccessful attempts to turn her over to the authorities, the child ends up staying at Mill of Fortune for the entire weekend. Mollie is a disturbed woman, whose split with Chae is due to her belief that a fictional character in one of his novels (he's a writer) unveils his lover's secrets. Mollie names the baby Olivia and secretly plans not to turn her over to the police of social services.

While these events unfold, the baby's father, Kenneth, schemes to get money out of his daughter's retrieval. He's a mean-spirited, lazy man (if not a sociopath) who withholds his knowledge of the child's whereabouts from the infant's mother (a nurse from Bombay residing in London) for his personal financial gain. Meanwhile, Ewan is reading the novel that Mollie claims has her secrets in it. As an honest, by the book type, Ewan is also extremely stressed that he may have unwittingly participated in an insider trading scheme at work. There's an excellent blend of suspense, well drawn characters, and crisp prose in Criminals, which makes for an entertaining read. I plan to read more by Margot Livesey.

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