Read A Stranger in the Family Online

Authors: Robert Barnard

A Stranger in the Family (19 page)

When it came to judging, Kit felt he had to ask himself: what would you have done if you
had lived in a world gone mad? Greenspan had cut himself off from family, class and religion, and no sooner had he done so than the world of Central Europe had gone crazy. The more Kit learnt about the decade from the mid-Thirties to the end of the war, the more he saw it as the product of demented sadists. If your world had been taken over by mass killers, torturers,
, what could you do? Hide? Escape? Accept?

There was something about Greenspan’s career in Fascist Europe that was … not glorious, no, but that showed energy, a refusal to capitulate, a determination to win through, survive the general butchery. It was, in fact, the survival instinct seen in its most energetic, if least commendable, form.

Kit had bought an English newspaper at the bookstall in the airport. Death of Edward Upward at the age of 105. Friend of Auden and Isherwood, and lifelong member of the Communist party … So, a contemporary of his grandfather. A man who had lived in a stable, slightly sleepy democracy, and devoted his life to being an apologist for a murderous political extremism. Which would Kit prefer as a member of his family: the apologist for mass slaughter, or the jaunty, inventive, unscrupulous survivor, the man who was never
going to be done down, never going to submit?

The latter, of course.

When he changed planes at Heathrow and caught the plane to Manchester he asked himself: what am I going to do? Here he was in possession of a house in a starchy area, a modest fortune in safe investments, a life ahead of him that could be conventional – research scholarships, academic jobs, even going into politics on a Lib Dem ticket? Would he insert the Novello family into the place in his life that had previously been filled by the Philipsons?

No, he would not. What was he to them? A stranger in the family, an intrusion, a
surprise. Was he any more than that even to Isla? Had she initially welcomed him as she did because she loved him as a mother, or because that was the reaction that he and other people would expect? Or because of her guilt at being a party to his abduction? No doubt in the future he would pay her occasional visits, which he certainly would not do to his father. Otherwise the Novellos had their world, their interests, and he had his.

What were those interests? That was what he had to find out. ‘The world is all before you’ – Genevieve had adapted Milton’s phrase and applied it to him only days before she died. What would that world consist of? The answer
would be for him to find and live up to. He thought that he would in the end try to make of himself something that the Philipsons would have recognised, something that they would have approved of.

When the plane landed at Manchester he turned away from the overhead corridor that would take him to the railway and to Leeds and went to buy himself a ticket on the next plane to Glasgow. The world was all before him indeed. An interlude in his life was over.



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A Stranger in the Family
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was born in Essex. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and after completing his degree he taught English at universities in Australia and Norway, where he completed his doctorate on Dickens. He returned to England to become a full-time writer and now lives in Leeds with his wife Louise, cat Durdles and dog Peggotty. He has been awarded both the prestigious CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger, in recognition of a lifetime’s achievement in crime writing, as well as the CWA prize for the best short story of the year.

Sheer Torture

The Mistress of Alderley

A Cry from the Dark

The Graveyard Position

Dying Flames

A Fall from Grace

Last Post

The Killings on Jubilee Terrace

A Stranger in the Family

A Mansion and its Murder

Rogues’ Gallery (short story collection)

Allison & Busby Limited
13 Charlotte Mews
London W1T 4EJ

Hardback published in Great Britain in 2010.
Paperback edition published in 2011.
This ebook edition first published in 2011.

Copyright © 2010 by R

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All characters and events in this publication
other than those clearly in the public domain
are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, 
living or dead, is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by
any means without the prior written permission of the publisher,
nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover
other than that in which it is published and without a similar
condition being imposed on the subsequent buyer.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from
the British Library.

ISBN 978–0




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