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Issue 76 - Judging a book

Whisky Magazine Issue 76
November 2008


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Judging a book

Jefferson Chase looks at a whisky thriller

Thrillers most often focus on public events and conflicts, for example, politics, crime or warfare. But as we all know, and contrary to the cliché of domestic bliss, people's private lives are equally full of twists and turns, rivalries and betrayals.

Tim Parks' 2003 novel Judge Savage is a fine example of what might be called the family thriller, a story of how a public figure is brought down by internal, rather than external enemies.

As the story opens, Daniel Savage – a successful judge promoted ahead of his turn because of his minority background – has decided to mend his adulterous ways and devote himself to home and hearth.

In the living room of his new house in suburban England, he enjoys a drink with his piano-teacher wife Hilary and one of her pupils: As the ice crackled under the whisky and the sponge-cake steamed, Daniel felt entirely happy.

It makes you sick, she laughed. Max was also laughing. We'll make love later, the judge promised himself. He was aware of savouring the moment's happiness. I'll get fat, he thought, I'll grow jolly and complacent.

Little does Savage know that his life is about to get anything but jolly.

An ex-lover, a former juror from a immigrant Korean family, calls in the middle of the night, intimating that her brothers are threatening her life because she has had an affair with a black man.

And at a night out in a restaurant, Savage's daughter makes it abundantly clear that she is not willing to let bygones be bygones.

Sarah s...

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